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Wildcats face tough test in debut of Collopy, field

TAKING THE FIELD — Last season, the Edison Wildcats took to the grass at Cartwright Field for the final time. Friday night the new-look Wildcats and their new coach, Mike Collopy, will take the field on their new turf for the first time. -- File

RICHMOND — A new era of Edison football begins Friday night against Southern Local. Kick off is set for 7 p.m. for what will be the first game for the Wildcats under the guidance of first-year head coach Mike Collopy. 

“Things are going well,” Collopy said about his team’s preparations for their game against the Indians. “We finally had a scrimmage. We got to see what we need to work on. It was good to go against another team. You go up against the same guys at practice. It was good to see what we had against an opponent.”

The game will be the Wildcats first one on the new turf field at the high school. The Edison boys and girls soccer teams played their home games on the field last season, while the football team played its final season on the grass inside the old Cartwright Memorial Field.

“Oh yeah, the kids are excited,” Collopy said. “The community is excited. It is a beautiful place. We are pretty lucky that we have an opportunity to play on a field like that.”

While the game will be Collopy’s first as the team’s head coach, the man across the field — Rich Wright — has seen many battles throughout a long and storied history as a coach. 

“Coach Wright is an outstanding coach,” Collopy said. “He is a great coach. They are going to be well coached and fundamentally sound. They are going to be physical. They have some nice athletes at the skill positions.”

After playing in back-to-back years in 2018 and 2019, the schools did not play last season. The Indians won both previous meetings — 38-12 in 2019 at Edison and 39-13 in 2018 on the turf at Wigwam Stadium. 

Southern Local has the size to control the line scrimmage, while also possessing plenty of talent to create big plays. 

“We are going to have to eliminate big plays,” Collopy said. “We are going to need to match their physicality. They are big and physical. We are going to have to hold on to the football. The one thing we have to do is we have to make sure we are not hurting ourselves on either side of the ball with penalties.”

The Indians have plenty of talent at the skill positions that the Wildcats are going to have to contain in order to open the season with a victory.

“To be honest with you, we have only seen one film of them,” Collopy said. “We don’t know much about them. One of the things that concerns me is they have nice athletes at their skill positions. Their quarterback is a nice athletes. He can throw and run. He is going to present some problems for us.”

Edison is dealing with some injuries heading into Week 1. 

“We are mostly healthy,” Collopy said. “We have a couple of guys banged up, but they seem to be on the right path. Hopefully, everything goes well the rest of the week.”

The injuries sustained by the Wildcats are expected at this point of the season. 

“We have the normal bumps and bruises,” Collopy said. “We are mostly healthy. You go from camp to two-a-days. We tell the kids that something is not going to feel right throughout the season and a couple of weeks after that. Then, their bodies will recover.”

Edison started last season out at 3-1 before losing five out of its final six games to finish the season out at 4-6. Likewise, Southern Local also had a tough end to its season. The Indians started last season strong, building a 5-1 record through six games, however, the Indians dropped their last two games by a combined 67 points to end the season at 5-3.

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