With the high school football season less than a month away, we will post preview capsules of WBL and MAC football teams as the coaches send them in.
The Evening Leader's Fall Sports Preview will be released on Friday, Aug. 19 and be inserted in that day's Evening Leader. Also look for a special online-only area football preview that will be downloadable from TheEveningLeader.com.
Updated on Monday, Aug. 8:
Head Coach: Chris Miller
2010 Results: 5-5, 4-5 (3-2 at home, 2-3 a home)
Notes: Bath returns 2nd Team All-WBL senior running back Aaron Smith, who ran for a WBL-best 170 yards per game (1,700 yards on 311 carries)and 15 touchdowns. The Bath workhorse carried the ball 116 times more than any other running back in the league and was fifth in total offense in the WBL as a junior. Also back is senior quarterback Brad Davis, who as a junior threw for 650 yards with a 38.1 completion percentage with five touchdowns and five interceptions. Second-team All-WBL tight end Nate Heffner returns for his senior season.
Key Returners: Aaron Smith (Sr., RB), Nate Heffner (Sr., TE), Brandyn Perry (Jr., DL), Keaton Sullivan (Jr., LB), Brad Davis(Sr., QB).
Key Losses to Graduation: Dan Painter (G), Colin Bishop (DB).
Head Coach: Jared Rolfes
2010 Record: 6-4, 6-3 in the WBL (4-1 at home, 2-3 on the road)
Notes: Junior quarterback Braden Billger returns after a breakout sophomore season. Billger led the Bulldogs to a 6-4 record and threw for 2,881 yards and 22 touchdowns (with a 58.4 completion percentage and 17 interceptions). But Billger will be without his favorite target from last season Kahl Knapke , who had 1,149 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns in 2010. Celina will also need to replace running back Andy Sutter, who rushed for 687 yards and eight touchdowns.
Key Losses to Graduation: Kahl Knapke (WR, 1st Team All-WBL), Brian Donovan (Sr., DT, 1st Team All-WBL defense), Kyle Fink (DE, 2nd Team All-WBL), Dylan Cummins (LB), Brad Buxton (DB), Andy Sutter (RB).
Head Coach: Jerry Buti, 21st season, 197-106-1 overall.
2010 Record: 1-9, 1-8 in the WBL (1-4 at home, 0-5 away).
Key Losses: Nate McCalla (DT, OT), Evyn George (WR, S), Ryan Dordray (WR, DB), Mike Ramirez (TE, LB), Jake Sanchez (C), Chris Juarez (OT), Derron Pritchett (RB, DB), Tyler Seibel (DE), Kurt Belau (QB), Ty Parrish (WR), Cody Barrett (LB).
Returning Starters: 11 (6 on offense, 5 on defense), Joe Keween (QB), Max Flassford (OL), Jake Estle (OL), Nick Lopez (RB, LB), Nick Vittorio (LB), Kam Shankle (DE, TE), Justin Kahle (LB, TE), Troy Mayes (OL), Gabe Martinez (DL).
Coach's Comments: Buti thinks Kenton will win the WBL, with Elida in second place.
Notes: Defiance is in one of the driest spells since Buti took over the program in the early 1990s, having gone 6-15 the past two seasons after a playoff appearance in 2008.
Head Coach: Jason Carpenter
2010 Results: 9-3, 7-2 in the WBL, 1-1 in the playoffs (5-0 at home, 4-2 on the road)
Notes: Elida brings back a trio of offensive skillset players that make it one of the best offenses in the WBL. In most high school football conferences, Reggie McAdams would be the undisputed star. In the Western Buckeye League, he didn't even crack the first team list last fall. Despite sometimes living in the shadow of Kenton's Maty Mauk, McAdams plays second fiddle to few in the state of Ohio. McAdams threw for 2,327 yards with 31 touchdowns and just three interceptions with a 60.9 completion percentage in the regular season last fall. Add 215 yards rushing and the 6-6 190-pound senior is a legitimate Division I prospect, who already has an offer from Kent State. McAdams is joined in the backfield by the small, elusive Colin Blymyer, a 5-6 165-pound scatback who rushed for 1,098 yards and five touchdowns during the regular season. Senior wideout Austin Etzler, a 6-2, 180-pounder, caught 44 passes for 857 yards and eight touchdowns last season. The defense lost a lot of key players. Quentin Poling collected a team-high 100 tackles in the regular season as a sophomore and returns to a defense that is missing some key parts from a season ago like Kevin Kraft, Alex McAdams, Kurt Hafeken and Ross Harmon.
Key Returners: McAdams, Blymyer, Ian Dukehart (Sr., DE), Quentin Poling (Jr., LB).
Key Losses: Kevin Kraft (DB, transfer), Nate Sackinger (OT), Alex McAdams (DE), Kurt Hafeken (DT), Ross Harmon (LB), Rikki Le (WR).
Head Coach: Mike Mauk
2010 Results: 11-2, 8-1 in the WBL, 2-1 in the playoffs
Notes: Maty Mauk will be looking to lead Kenton to its fourth straight Western Buckeye League title with him under center this fall. Mauk, a verbal commit to the University of Missouri football program, enters his senior season one of them most celebrated high school quarterbacks in the nation. Including the Wildcats' playoff run, Mauk threw for 5,670 yards and 69 touchdowns. But Mauk is still missing something older brother Ben had during his similarly prolific career at Kenton: a state championship. Kenton fell to Kettering Alter in heartbreaking fashion 35-32 last year in the regional final round of the state playoffs after entering the postseason the top-ranked team in Ohio. For all that Mauk's promise, Kenton has questions to answer in 2011. Namely, how will the Wildcats replace a receiving corps diminshed by graduation? Max Morrison was a first team All-WBL wideout who caught 107 passes for 1,524 yards and 21 touchdowns. Andrew Tillman had 1,057 yards receiving. Dustin Howell had 918 yards receiving. Kenton will count on Kieran Fetter, a senior, to be the most experienced receiver back. Defensively, Brice Fackler in the defensive backfield and Charlie Hinkle at defensive tackle return for senior seasons after being first team All-WBL performers last season. Gabe King was a second team All-WBL defensive end.
Key Losses: WR Max Morrison, WR Andrew Tillman, WR Dustin Howell, OT Matthew McKinley, LB Bobby Handell, DB Alex Kissling.
Key Returners: QB Maty Mauk (Sr.), DB Brice Fackler (Sr.), DE Gabe King (Sr.), DB Sean Kelly (Sr.), C Clint Brunow (Sr.).
Head Coach: Ken Schriner
2010 Record: 8-3, 7-2 in the WBL, 0-1 in the playoffs (4-1 at home, 4-2 on the road)
Key Losses to Graduation: TE Matt Peck, DB Jeff Siefker, C Ross Ellerbrock, G Adam Recker, DB Adam Hershberger, DE Ross Ellerbrock, DT Dylan Ellerbrock, DB Grant Recker, QB Nathan Kahle, DB Cody Gerdeman,
Key Returners: RB Brandon Kuhlman (Sr.), T Derek Rieman, DT Craig Reiman (Sr.), LB Tristan Parker (Jr.), DL Wyatt Karhoff (Jr.).
Notes: Ken Schriner has built a self-sustaining football program that seems to run like clockwork now. O-G again qualified for the playoffs — for the sixth straight season — with a team that had real question marks at the beginning of the campaign. The Titans turned out an 8-2 regular season with a second-place finish in the WBL, including a stunning 22-20 win over eventual champion Kenton in Week 4. Key losses to the roster because of disciplinary action likely cost the Titans a run at the WBL title, with back-to-back losses to Wapakoneta and Elida marring an otherwise stellar season. The season ended with a 7-6 loss to Genoa on the road. Again the resiliency of the Titans will be tested after losing the defensive back and offensive lineman of the year in the WBL, Jeff Siefker (127 tackles in 2010) and Matt Peck, to graduation. Also gone is duel-threat quarterback Nathan Kahle (572 rushing yards, 1,081 passing yards in the regular season) along with first team All-WBL performers Adam Recker, Adam Hershberger (5 INTs in 2010), Ross Ellerbrock and Dylan Ellerbrock from the top-ranked scoring defense in the league in 2010. But O-G's powerful running game should be good again with first team All-WBL running back Brandon Kuhlman back for his senior season. Kuhlman rushed for 1,041 yards in the regular season with five touchdowns and averaged over 108 all-purpose yards per game in the regular season for the Titans.
Head Coach: Dick West
2010 Record: 2-8, 2-7 in the WBL (2-3 at home, 0-5 on the road)
Returning Letterwinners: 17
Key Losses: RB Jamiil Williams, DL Ryan Bechtel.
Key Returners: LB Trey Runneals (Sr.), DE Sam Altenbach (Sr.), C David Werst (Sr.).
Notes: In the era of the spread, 15.2 points per game won't win many ballgames, as the Shawnee Indians found out in a 2-8 season in 2010. Shawnee ranked eighth in the WBL in points per game, taxing a solid defense that gave up 26 points per game but found itself on the field for far too long. The Shawnee offense must replace 2nd Team All-WBL running back Jamiil Williams, who ran for 797 yards at 6.4 yards per carry last season. The defense should again be a strong point for the Indians, who have one of the league's best linebackers in senior Trey Runneals. Runneals led the WBL in tackles with 171 stops. Returning senior defensive end Sam Altenbach had 114 tackles. Those two are a testament to how stout the Shawnee defense was at times last year, but also how many stops they were forced to make with an offense that threw for just 71.9 yards per game. With 17 letterwinners back on the team this fall, Shawnee could make a big leap forward in 2011. Shawnee's two-win season snapped a streak of four straight seven-win seasons by Dick West's Indians.
St. Marys Roughriders
Head Coach: Greg Phillips, 1st Season
2010 Record: 1-9, 0-9 in the WBL (1-4 at home, 0-5 on the road)
Losses to Graduation: DT Jimmy Hollman, OG/DE Freddie Hardin, DT Joel Perry, FB Mitch Newbauer, QB Derek Roop, RB Kyle Puschel, TE Wesley Taylor, DL Seth Stoner, Jason Hunter, Logan Deitsch, Tyler Albert, Corey Evans, Drew Bowman, Trevor Sterling, Chaz Slayton.
Notes: For the second time in three seasons, the WBL's most historically stable program enters the season with new leadership. After a disastrous 1-9 seasonthat saw major pieces get injured early in the season, a 10-year winning streak against Celina come to a halt in dramatic fashion and a winless run through the WBL schedule, the Roughriders turn to new head coach Greg Phillips to return the program to prominence after a two-year run of 5-5 and 1-9 seasons.
St. Marys scored a WBL-worst 10.9 points per game despite being the second-leading rushing team in the conference. The Riders featured a passing game that produced 10.9 yards per game through the air and an offense that sputtered on third down to the tune of a 30.8 percent conversion rate. Opposing teams gained first downs at a 46.3 percent clip, in contrast. St. Marys was outscored 114-15 in the second quarter in games in 2010. Looking to turn things around is Phillips, who will alter the offense from the long-ensconsed Wing-T. "I know the Wing-T was big here," Phillips said on taking the job. "I'm an I -formation guy. We're going to run the football. We're going to be a physical, hard-nosed running team, but the nice thing is I think we have a real nice play-action and boot package."
Former St. Marys head coach and current Wapakoneta head coach Doug Frye described the Riders' senior class, which numbered 25 players at the beginning of the 2010 season, as "loaded." Dustin Fisher rushed for 614 yards last season as a junior. Junior D.J. Manning was being counted on as a workhorse at running back last fall before a preseason injury kept him out most of 2010. Senior Tre Sherman ran for 152 yards on 28 carries last fall.
St. Marys needs to replace a strong defensive line group that graduated. Jimmy Hollman and Joel Perry made for a tough interior defensive line. Freddie Hardin had a team-high seven tackles for a loss. At linebacker, the Roughriders return two of their top tacklers. Brad Sawmiller led the squad with 74 tackles last fall while Mitch Fowler added 53 tackles as juniors last season.
Van Wert Cougars
Head Coach: Bob Priest
2010 Record: 5-5, 4-5 in the WBL, 5-0 at home, 0-5 on the road
Notes: For years Van Wert built its hopes in a talented class to rebuild the program. That class is gone. After a roller-coaster 5-5 season in 2010, Bob Priest is again looking to build up the talent reserves. The Cougars lost running back Connor Massillo, who rushed for 973 yards on just 138 carries for a WBL second-best 7.1 yards per carry and eight touchdowns. Also gone is Corey Clifton, a quarterback who took well to the spread offense to the tune of 1,500 yards passing, 17 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Clifton also ran for 556 yards, a second-best for WBL quarterbacks behind Maty Mauk. Clifton also picked off four passes as a defensive back, as well. Also gone is top target for Clifton, Donny Sites who had 677 yards and 10 touchdowns receiving. Defensively, Van Wert brings back senior defensive end Austin Reichert, who was a first team All-WBL player last season.
Head Coach: Doug Frye, 2nd Season, 7-3 at school, 160-95 overall (24 seasons)
Assistant Coaches: Mark Law, Shane Patterson, Derek Dunlap, Troy Huelskamp, Joe Schnarre, Brent Copeland, Bo Frye, Bill Sammons.
2010 Record: 7-3, 6-3 in the WBL. (2-3 on the road, 5-0 at home).
Offense: "Wing and Fling"
Returning Starters: 11, Kyle Gibson (QB, Jr.), Chris Schwartz (OG, Sr.), Connor Pickens (RB, Sr.), Trey Smith (OT, Sr.), Jim Knippen (OT, Sr.), Brendan Wilson (LB, Sr.), Nate Bracy (DL, Jr.), Alex Greve (DB, Jr.), Johnny Crawford (DB, Jr.), Connor Metz (DB, Sr.), Brandon Miller (LB, Jr.), Cole Thrush (DL, Sr.).
Newcomers: Nick Warner (C, Sr.), Lance Vetter (OT, Sr.), Nic Sawmiller (TE, Sr.), Josh Windle (RB, Jr.), Jensen Merricle (RB, Jr.), Michael Bower (DL, Jr.), Josh Hartman LB, Sr.), Zach Dietering (DB, Jr.), Brandon Christler (TE, Jr.), Andy Faller (K, Sr.), T.J. Sprague (SE, Sr.), Andrew Hines (LB, Jr.), Zach Schmerge (LB, So.).
Coach's Comments: "After a 1-9 record in 2009, we turned it around by going 7-3 in 2010. The trademark of Wapakoneta Football has been roller coaster football. There has not been a consistent winning streak in the current times. The last back to back winning seasons were 1990 and 1991. Our goal is to build a consistent level of solid/winning football...The league will be the best it has been in a long time. There will no weak sisters in the WBL this season. The league has many fine teams and quarterbacks. Playoff teams should be Kenton, OG, Elida, Celina, Bath. St. Marys has a loaded senior class and Shawnee returns 17 lettermen."
Head Coach: Chip Otten, 2nd Season, 11-4, 36-39 overall
2010 Record: 11-4, 4-1 in the playoffs.
Losses to Graduation: Aaron Rammel, Kurt Schoenherr, Ross Wermert, Ethan Bettinger, Nate Kaup, Drew Feltz, Reese Klenke, Dustin Gillis, Brad Gilliland, Nick Gilliland, Ryan Seas, Kyle Post, Cody Homan and Brad Buening.
Returning Letterwinners: Alex Stammen (WR/DB, Sr.), Aaron Mestemaker (WR, Sr.), Troy Otten (WR/DB/K, Sr.), Jordan Klosterman (OLB, Sr.), Mark Brunet (OL/DE, Sr.), Josh Huber (DB, Jr.), Austin Bruns (QB, Jr.), Jordan Chapin (OLB, Jr.), Caleb Siefring (DB, Jr.), Zach Dickman (LB, Jr.), Jordan Harlemert (DE, Jr.), Kyle Bergman (LB/P, Jr.), Alex Grieshop (OL/DT, Sr.), Alan Kunk (DL, Jr.), Isaac Dipololo (LB, Sr.), Cody Madaj (DL/Jr.), Drew Klosterman (RB, Sr.), Vinny Droech (LS, Jr.).
Newcomers: Eric Schmackers (WR, Sr.), Mike Rios (C, Jr.), Jake Kramer (OL, Jr.), Nick Albers (OL, Jr.), Zach Gerlach (DE, Sr.), Keith Buening (DE, Sr.).
Notes: Chip Otten and the Cavaliers had yet another deep playoff run in 2010, making a jaunt to the state title game after a 7-3 regular season. While the season ended with a 51-21 to Youngstown Ursuline in the Division IV title game, it was a season of accomplishment after Otten took over for the late John Reed Last year's playoff run made it 15 straight postseason appearances for the Cavaliers. For the winningest program in the state since 2000, there are hopes again of competing for a MAC title and playoff appearance. There are plenty of question marks to overcome, though. The Cavaliers lost 13 seniors to graduation, including MAC co-offensive player of the year Reese Klenke (69 catches, 1,271 yards, 16 TDs) and first-team All-MAC linebacker Aaron Rammel. Otten returns 19 letterwinners and 13 seniors this fall. Otten said one of his team's is returning quarterback Austin Bruns, who was injured during the playoffs last season. The Cavs are quick and they have depth along with a solid kicking game. Otten thinks the toughest obstacle early will be to overcome inexperience on the offensive line. And Coldwater lost big playmaking wide receiver Reese Klenke to graduation. "we're not sure who our go-to guy on offense is yet," Otten said.
Head Coach: Nate Moore, 2nd Season, 7-6 record
Assistant Coaches: Ken Meyer, Mark Heitbrink, Craig Wenning, Brian Wuebker, Byron Albers, Brian Wolf, Terrance Roddy.
2010 Results: 7-6, 5-3 in the MAC, 2-1 in the playoffs (3-2 at home, 3-3 on the road)
Returning Letterwinners: 12, James Borges (DB/RB, Jr.), Troy Kaufman (LB/RB, Jr.), Adam Niemeyer (DB/QB, Jr.), Devon Poeppelman (LB/WR, Jr.), Derek Collins (DB/WR, Sr.), Daniel Gusching (LB/WR, Sr.), Austin Knapke (DB/WR, Sr.), Wes Hegemann (DL/OL, So.), Clay Bornhorst (DL/OL, Sr.), Eddie Bruns (DL/OL, Sr.), Rob Wente (DL/TE, Sr.), Ryan Will (DL/OL, Sr.).
Returning Starters: 11
Offensive System: Multiple one-back
Defensive System: 4-3
Newcomers: Mason Haney (DL/OL, Jr.), Korey Schultz (DB/RB, Jr.), Jay Eilerman (DB/WR, Jr.).
Notes: The Wildcats, coming off a surprise run to the regional championship game in the Division VI playoffs last fall, return eight starters on offense and three starters on defense...Adam Niemeyer will be under center, taking over the quarterback spot from the graduated Chase Paxson. It's not a new role for Niemeyer, who started games as a freshman in 2009. A broken finger before the 2010 season relegated him to back-up after Paxson ran with the spot, but Moore thinks the 6-3 190-pound junior is ready for a breakout season. "He's flying under the media’s radar right now," Moore said....Daniel Gusching, a 6-3, 220-pound middle linebacker is the leader of the defense, which kept three powerful offenses under 30 points in each of Minster's three playoff games last fall. "
Coach's Comments: "We will be looking to build off of the 2010 season. We want to put Minster back into the discussion as a regional and state power."(Gusching) is athletic and a hitter," Moore said. "He's equally good coming off the edge or dropping into coverage."
New Bremen Cardinals
Head Coach: Rob Messick, 4th season, 12-28 record, 22-48 overall
2010 Season: 2-8, 2-6 in the WBL (0-5 at home, 2-3 on the road)
Returning Starters: 6, Neven Frazee (OL/LB/DL), Nathan Skinner (LB/RB), Alex Speelman (OL/DL), Alec Frideger (DB/WR), Ben Chaney (DB/WR), Elliot Westerbeck (DB/QB).
Notes: Messick believes Coldwater is the favorite, with Anna, Minster and Versailles right behind them in the favorites for the MAC title...Elliot Westerbeck will likely get the nod at starting quarterback...
Coach's Comments: "We are not returning a lot of players from last years team. Our seniors are very motivated and are doing an excellent job. We are very excited about our defense. We are solid at every position with quality backups. On offense we are returning only three starters. We have a very solid offensive backfield and are young on the offensive line. We do have a returning quarterback and running backs this year. They are doing a great job and should become quality players as the season progresses."
Fort Recovery Indians
Head Coach: Brent Niekamp, sixth season, 15-45 overall record
Assistant Coaches: Dave Blockberger, Joe Bruns, Zach Sudhoff, Stacey Drew.
2010 Record: 2-8, 0-8 in the MAC (1-4 at home, 1-4 on the road)
Returning Letterwinners: 9, Aaron Vagedes (Sr. WR/DB), Jason Pottkotter (QB/DB, Sr.), Kenny Wenning (WR/LB, Sr.), Derek Gaerke (WR/DB, Sr.), Jacob Whitacre (OL/DL, Sr.), Ryan Gaerke (OL/DL, Sr.), Mason Evers (OL/LB, Jr.), Trent Kaiser (OL/LB, Jr.), Kyle Timmerman (RB/DL, So.).
Returning Starters: 6, Vagedes, Pottkotter, Wenning, Gaerke, Whitacre, Gaerke.
Newcomers: Alex Wenning (WR/LB, So.), Wyatt Blockberger (WR/DB, So.), Cole Hull (WR/DB, Fr.), Reece Grieshop (OL-DL, So.), Seth Riegle (OL/DL, Fr.).
Coach's Comments: We do a pretty good job of getting the ball to our best players in space. Our kids understand that's what we want offensively. Defensively we pursue and tackle pretty well...We need to work on fundamental things: blocking offensively and getting off blocks defensively. We didn't do these things nearly well enough last season... We know we have a great challenge every week. We are focusing on winning the individual battle at each position on each play."
Notes: Kenny Wenning stood out on defense a season ago, recording 93 tackles with three for a loss.
Head Coach: Dan Cairns, first season, 14 seasons as a head coach.
Assistant Coaches: Jason Henline, Barry Peel, David Hucke, Casey McDonahay, Alex Subler, Don Garwood.
2010 Results: 2-8, 1-7 in the MAC (1-4 at home, 1-4 on the road).
Offensive System: Variation of the Spread
Defensive System: Variation of the 4-2
Letterman Lost to Graduation: Eight
Returning Lettermen: 11
Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 5 on defense
Returning Impact Players: Bryce Bedwell (Sr.), Riley Branstetter (Sr.), Jonathon Fent (Sr.), Zach Genron (Sr.), Derek Luth (Sr.), Sean Mendez (Sr.), Caleb Rodriguez (Sr.), Nick Routt (Sr.), Cody Severns (Sr.), Seth Hipply (Jr.), Jeremy Miller (Jr.), Tyler Mathews (Jr.), Brandon Moorman (Jr.), Jarret O'Neill (Jr.), Cain Pontsler (Jr.), Cody Schmitt (Jr.), Adam Carr (So.), Austin Dennison (So.), Noah Gehron (So.), Dakota Hucke (So.), and Mike Miracle (So.).
Coach's Comments: "This year's team consists of tough, hard-working group of blue collar type players...there's a lack of experience and depth and a new coach and new system on both sides of the ball."
Notes: Cairns, who left Sidney High School's head coach spot to take the Parkway position, said the key to his team's success this fall is to stay injury-free and hope that his players pick up the new systems in place. Cairns looks for Coldwater, Anna, Delphos St. John's and Marion Local to battle for the top of the MAC this fall.