“It’s a very exciting time to be a Wildcat,” said Union Head Coach Erick Webster.

And he’s not just talking about the new stadium project, which is moving into its final phases. Stierberger Stadium is receiving a new artificial turf surface to go with many other upgrades. There will be stands on the visiting time for the first side and the stands and press box on the home side are being upgraded as well.

“We are unbelievably excited about the growth of our program, and that includes the renovation of our stadium,” Webster said.

Entering his second season, Webster no longer has a group of inexperienced players. In fact, the lumps Union took early last year have made this year’s team even tougher.

Union lost its first three games last year, being outscored by a 131-12 margin. In its first five games, the Wildcats went 1-4.

But Union hit their stride in the second half of the season, winning four in a row before dropping an 8-0 road loss to Priory in the opening round of the district playoffs.

Webster reports the Wildcats had 60 players come out Monday, including 10 offensive and nine defensive starters from last year’s squad.

The Wildcats have most of their skill players back from last season, including junior quarterback Blake Hulsey, junior running backs Nick Maher and John Prosser, junior receiver Logan Bellamy and senior receivers Jacob Carman and Jobie Richardson.

Defensively, the Wildcats have seniors Nathan Collins, Joe Lasky, Paul Straatman and Dustin Longsdon on the defensive line and Maher and Prosser back at linebacker. Carman and Bellamy return in the secondary.

“It’s great to have numbers increase, especially with the successes our players were able to earn after a disappointing start,” Webster said. “We really feel good about our returners and the additions making us a strong team.”

One newcomer expected to make an early impact on both sides of the ball is senior Trey Edwards, who could make an impact at receiver and cornerback.

The Wildcats have added to the coaching staff as well. William Graft has been brought onto the staff and will specialize on defensive line.