Senior Tyler White leads the battle-tested Panthers. He led the team in the MIC and sectional last year. He tied for low score in the sectional and finished second in a three-man playoff.
“Whitey led us all last year and he is going to lead us all this year. He knows it and the rest of the kids know it,” Hoppes said. “He’s confident in himself, which is important if you’re going to play No. 1.
“All of the other kids shot in the 70s at certain times last year. We feel like we can get four or five kids in the 70s, maybe in the middle 70s. That will give us that low score we’re looking for.”
Seniors Austin Smith and Brennan Raines, juniors Ryan Rossi and Baylor Woolley and sophomore Nolan Stout are the Panthers’ other returning players.
Senior Matt McKinney, juniors P.J. Miller and A.J. Richards and freshman Riley Tomlinson round out the roster.
Western opens against Maconaquah on Thursday at Chippendale, then plays in the Twin Lakes Invitational on Saturday at the Tippecanoe Country Club in Monticello.
“Saturday is going to tell us if we’re any good,” Hoppes said. “It’s a 21-team tournament and there’s some class teams in that thing. It’s a tough golf course, too.”
The Wildkats will look to improve on fifth-place showings in both the North Central Conference tournament and the Peru Sectional.
“This is my third year as coach and I think we’ve made some advancements with the team each year,” coach Jay Davis said. “My first year, I basically had a set lineup of guys and last year I had a pretty good idea of the separation between the varsity and JV. This year I have a lot more depth. I’d say as many as nine guys could see varsity action this year. I love the level of competition.”