by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Just win, baby.
Such a statement could be the Western Reserve Academy football team's motto in 2013.
Of course, we're not talking about the same motto that Al Davis made about his Oakland Raiders many years ago.
And although it sounds somewhat similar to the late NFL owner's remark, the Pioneers' motto actually is something completely different.
Reserve hopes to "Win the day," according to third-year head football coach Jeff Hildebrand.
"It's basically about the choices they have to make," he said. "The choices you make every day can determine that you are a better person who makes other people around you better or not."
Regardless of how many actual "wins" WRA produces in 2013, Hildebrand will be more pleased to see his players master another type of "win."
In other words, W.I.N. -- what's important now.
"Regardless of the situation on the field, we want to reward them for their hard work," Hildebrand said. "We want to give the best effort we can."
It's unlikely that Reserve will finish undefeated this year.
WRA is low in numbers and a bit undersized at a number of positions.
The Pioneers finished 1-8 last year after posting a 2-8 mark in 2011.
Reserve lost 13 seniors, including eight starters, from last year and have just five seniors and six juniors on the roster.
Nevertheless, Hildebrand hasn't lost his enthusiasm.
"It has been encouraging," he said. "We have different kinds of players from the previous years, but overall, the team attitude is better than I've ever had.
'They are really invested in what we're doing. They are fun to be around."
In the past, WRA threw the ball on just about every down and had its share of shootouts with opposing teams. That won't be the case this year.
"We're still going to be a spread team with a lot more focus on the run," Hildebrand said. "We may have run the ball more in our scrimmage more than we did all of last year."
And Hildebrand won't wait long to play the underclassmen. The team has 12 freshmen on the roster.
"That's good and bad," Hildebrand said. "It's bad because they are going to be thrown into the fire and will have to learn quickly, but it's good because they will get plenty of experience."
Since the Pioneers plan to run the ball much of the time, their offensive line will be vital in how much the team can improve.
The offensive and defensive lines consist of senior Robert Head, juniors Alex Cecchini and Matt Haemer and sophomores Jung Hyun Min and Sam Becker.
"We are definitely undersized," Hildebrand said.
The running backs feature senior Jabril Smith and sophomores Kendall Anderson, Maison Cunningham and Ryan Mock.
The starting quarterback might be Reserve's biggest player on the team. Six-foot-4, 215-pound senior Justin Cook will take over behind center.
"Justin is a first-year student at Reserve," Hildebrand said. "He's a very good player."
The wide receivers include junior Zak Burgan and sophomore Colt Roe, who also is the backup quarterback.
The defense will feature a 5-3 look with two outside linebackers.
"We want to slow the other teams down," Hildebrand said. "We want to keep it simple and not let them think too much."
Cunningham and Mock are expected to start at the linebacker spots and Burgan plans to get varsity time at defensive end. The defensive backs are Smith, Anderson and Roe.
Anderson and Cunningham are expected to be the team's primary kick and punt returners. Junior Griffin Trau will handle all kicking and punting duties.
Hildebrand will be the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Matt Gerber is the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach and the offensive/defensive line coaches are Doug Kitts and Adam Yankay, a first-year coach.
Also on Hildebrand's staff are defensive backs/receivers coaches Michael Boller and Thomas Adams-Wall and first-year coach Tim Randall (running backs/outside linebackers).
"We just want to have the best season possible and keep improving every day," Hildebrand said. "We want them to be winners on and off the field."
WRA is scheduled to make its 2013 debut against Hawken Aug. 30 in Gates Mills. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.