By JIM METCALFE
PAULDING — Kyle Coleman gets the difficult job of getting the struggling Paulding football program back on track as he takes over for Chris Etzler in 2013.
The first-year varsity coach has a solid core of 12 lettermen returning but also has a long way to go from last fall’s 0-10 team (0-8 in the Northwest Conference).
Back to build this year’s Panther unit around are seniors Julian Salinas (captain; 6-1, 190; quarterback/defensive back), Javier Gonzales (captain; 5-11, 170; wide receiver/defensive back), Taylor Deatrick (5-9, 145; wide receiver/defensive back), Dylan Carnahan (5-6, 162; wide receiver/safety), Chazz Hahn (5-7, 187; fullback/linebacker), Michael Mott (5-9, 207; two-way lineman) and Ryan Schindler (captain; 5-10, 203; two-way lineman); juniors Christian Burtch (5-11, 178; wide receiver/defensive back)), Adam Deatrick (6-0, 190; tight end/defensive line) and Isaac Ludwig 5-10, 225; two-way lineman); and sophomores Corbin Edwards (5-8, 153; wide receiver/defensive back) and Jarrett Sitton (6-1, 240; two-way lineman).
“We look for our entire senior class to see significant downs while also being strong leaders for the young guys,” Coleman said.
Those players include seniors Quentin Vance (5-6, 151; wide receiver/defensive back), Spencer Lust (5-11, 140; wide receiver/defensive back), Aaron Contreraz (5-6, 185; tight end/linebacker), Kenny King (5-9, 165; fullback/linebacker), Seth Mattocks (5-7, 198; two-way lineman) and Brendan Thomas (6-1, 245; two-way lineman).
As well, juniors Kyle Gardner (5-9, 180; wide receiver/safety), Corey Adkins (5-10, 145; wide receiver/safety), Dakota Valdez (5-9, 204; offensive line/linebacker), Lorenzo Salinas (5-6, 197; two-way lineman), Logan McDaniel (5-11, 234; two-way lineman) and Bailey Combs (6-2, 257; two-way lineman); and sophomores Zach Buchman (5-11, 152; wide receiver/safety), Branson Minck (5-6, 128; wide receiver/defensive back), Cameron King (5-7, 160; running back/linebacker) and Matthew Martinez (5-10, 163; wide receiver/defensive back) will be called upon to provide depth.
Only four starters/letterwinners graduated last year in Logan Doster, James Brown, Lance Foor and Tyler Ash.
“Our senior class has provided us with significant leadership this off-season and we have been working very hard to improve daily,” Coleman added. “Our largest gap is our depth (40 players total), which will be young and inexperienced. We are preparing them as best we can through practice and scrimmages for the Friday night lights.”
Paulding hosts Wayne Trace 7:30 p.m. today.
NEW BREMEN CARDINALS
NEW BREMEN — New Bremen finished 2-8 a year ago in the football wars, including 2-6 in the Midwest Athletic Conference.
New head coach Jason McGaharan inherits a roster of 34 to try and restore the Cardinal fortunes in 2013.
He will be relying on seniors like Garrett Westerbeck (5-10, 180; quarterback/safety), Jacob Gilberg (5-10, 170; running back/cornerback), Zane Ferguson, (6-0, 165; wide receiver/safety), Nick Blaine (5-10, 180; running back/linebacker), Bennett Staton (5-11, 180; two-way lineman), Brice Boroff (5-9, 190; offensive line/linebacker), Ben Strang (5-10, 210; two-way lineman) and Ty Overman (6-2, 240; two-way lineman) to rally around.
As well, juniors Colin Scheib (5-9, 145; running back/cornerback), Trey Naylor (5-11, 185; quarterback/defensive back), Tristin Hoffmaster (5-10, 160; running back/linebacker), Carson Manger (6-3, 195; wide receiver/cornerback), Ryan Selby (5-9, 215; two-way lineman), James Kronenberger (5-11, 190; two-way lineman), Brett Barlage (5-9, 150; two-way lineman), Adrian Speelman (6-1, 200; offensive line/linebacker), Hayden Richter (5-11, 185; two-way lineman), Seth Williams (6-1, 190; tight end/defensive line), Nick Gusching (6-0, 160; wide receiver/linebacker) and Braden Elshoff (6-1, 195; tight end/defensive line); and sophomores Cody Duncan (5-9, 135; wide receiver/safety), Ben Schwieterman (5-8, 160; running back/safety), Greg Parker (5-9, 135; wide receiver/cornerback), Mitchell Kramer (5-10, 170; offensive line/linebacker), Cam Bergman (5-7, 180; offensive line/linebacker) and Austin Verhoff, (5-8, 240; two-way lineman).
New Bremen hosts Allen East to open the campaign.
FORT RECOVERY INDIANS
FORT RECOVERY — Brent Niekamp has spent eight years as the head man of the Fort Recovery gridiron program, compiling a 22-58 mark.
That includes last year’s 3-7 finish, including 1-7 in the Midwest Athletic Conference.
He returns 17 starters, including 11 starters, to try and make some noise in 2013.
Leading the veterans are starters in seniors Alex Wenning (200 pounds), Kyle Timmerman (190), Reece Grieshop (220; two-way lineman), Jacob Muhlenkamp (235; two-way lineman) and Trent Dues (240; two-way lineman); juniors Evan Schoen (170), Mitchel Stammen (155), Tony Keller (200), Seth Riegle (175) and Nick Link (220); and sophomore Kyle Schroer (145).
“We return a lot of physical players; most of our line on both sides of the ball has varsity experience. We feel like we can play pretty tough at the line, linebacker and running back positions,” Niekamp said. “We are inexperienced at the quarterback and wide receiver positions. We’ll need to learn to play with poise and consistency at those positions.”
Those who earned letters last fall off the bench and expected to step into the starting 22 are seniors Cole Brown (240) and David Trobridge (175); juniors Cole Hull (155), Alex Schoen (175) and Jacob Westgerdes (170); and sophomore Jackson Hobbs (185).
Promising newcomers include sophomores Darien Sheffer (150) and Wes Wenning (165).
“Reece, Jacob, Seth, Tony, Trent, Alex, Evan and Nick all played last year on the offensive or defensive line and tight end with Kyle (Timmerman) returning at the running back position,” Niekamp continued. “These guys are experienced and are physical players and thus guys to watch. We also return our corners in Kyle (Schroer) and Cole and Mitchel at safety. Darien is a young quarterback with a strong arm and quick feet.
“We have a lot of capable players returning. The key to our success will be how quickly we mature at some key skill positions and how smart and hard we can play individually and collectively.
“As always, the MAC presents some great challenges but we are eager to meet them.”
Fort Recovery hosts Edgerton 7 p.m. today.
ADA — Ada bid good-bye to long-time football coach Micah Fell and his high-powered spread offense at the end of last season, where they finished 10-2 (falling in the Region 24 semifinals), 7-1 in the Northwest Conference.
Don’t expect much as a change in 2013 as spread proponent Bob Olwin — who had great success at Fairview before have mixed results at Versailles, among other stops — steps into the head man’s position and returns 13 letterwinners, including 11 starters.
He begins his 35th season as a head man by turning to returning senior starters Matt Wilcox (6-1, 175; wide receiver/defensive back; 46 receptions, 881 yards, 9 scores; 40 solo tackles, 28 assists), Austin Dumbaugh (6-2, 205; wide receiver/defensive end), Hunter Waller (5-11, 177; wide receiver/defensive end/kicker; 52 extra points), Spencer Archer (6-1, 180; wide receiver/defensive back) and Saed Al-Olimak (5-11, 235; two-way lineman; 42 solos, 51 assists); juniors Luke Long-Green (5-8, 160; running back/linebacker; 45 solos, 41 assists), Levi Bass (5-10, 193; center/linebacker), Noah Beach (5-9, 183; two-way lineman), Dylan Hannah (5-11, 167; offensive line/linebacker) and Lane Nitchie (6-0; 210; two-way lineman; 33 and 45); and sophomore Blake Ansley (5-6, 166; running back/linebacker).
The other two veterans are seniors Brady Pitney (6-1, 210; two-way lineman) and Chase Tomak (5-7, 204; two-way lineman).
That crew helped the Bulldogs roll up 39.8 points a game and cede 15.1.
Expected to step into the starting 22 are the likes of junior Grant McBride (6-1, 160) and freshmen Owen Conley (6-2, 193) and Trent Jolliff (5-10, 168).
“One of our strengths is our strength in the weight room. We also tackle well and play hard. However, we need to address conditioning and obviously, learning a new system,” Olwin noted. “Matt is one of the guys I think you have to watch out for; he is an outstanding athlete. However, all the lettermen are good football players.
“Also look out for the three newcomers, who are all good athletes.”
However, Olwin does have some major holes to fill in departed seniors Mason Acheson (188-of-286 passing, 3.398 yards, 37 TDs, 16 interceptions), Micah Roberson (55 catches, 932, 11), NWC Defensive Player of the Year Jake Ansley (51 catches, 800 yards, 9; 94 solos, 60 assists), Kellen Decker (202 rushes, 1,711 yards, 22; 23 catches, 505 yards, 6) and linemen Russ Gray, Eli Roberson, McKay Johnson, Eryck McNeal and Brent Numbers.
“I am extremely excited to be able to work with the kids at Ada. I am looking forward to watching them come together as a team and be impressive on Friday nights,” Olwin added. “They have had a great off-season in the weight room, which will benefit us greatly. We will be working extremely hard to carry on the Ada football tradition.”
Assistant coaches are David Allen, Shawn Christopher, Cody MAttson and Jake Ansley.
Instead of long-time archrival Hardin Northern opening the season, Ada will visit Lees Creek East Clinton 7 p.m. today.
BLUFFTON — Dennis Lee keeps chugging along as the Bluffton head football coach, going 5-5 a year ago (4-4 in the Northwest Conference).
He begins his 27th year (172-99) with 15 lettermen to build around.
They include seniors Drake Luginbuhl (6-0, 185; wide receiver/linebacker; 30 solos, 41 assists), Andrew Lee (5-7, 155; wide receiver/linebacker), Isaac Little (6-3, 210; wide receiver/defensive back; 14 and 22), Scott Shumaker (5-11, 195; two-way lineman), Hunter Smith (6-1, 175; two-way lineman), Joey Bertka (5-10, 190; two-way lineman), Noah Stratton (5-7, 150; running back/defensive back; 2 picks), Jonah Bourassa (5-5, 170; running back/defensive back), Robert Demellweek (5-10, 150; wide receiver/defensive back) and Josh Bracy (5-8, 130; quarterback/defensive back; 23 and 25); juniors Robbie Stratton (5-10, 165; quarterback/defensive back; 13 and 17; 3 picks), Levi Kistler (6-2, 180; wide receiver/defensive end), Dylan Alt (6-2, 185; wide receiver/defensive back; 17 and 12) and Austin Bricker (5-4, 140; wide receiver/defensive back); and sophomore Mitchell Ault (5-11, 175; quarterback/defensive back).
Promising newcomers are seniors Eric Burroughs (6-3, 175; wide receiver/defensive end), Christian Montgomery (5-10, 185; two-way lineman) and Cody Williams-Basinger (5-10, 210; two-way lineman); juniors Clay Wilson (5-5, 155; wide receiver/defensive back; 17 and 18 in limited time), Andrew Spallinger (6-0, 175; two-way lineman), Brady Parkins (5-10, 185; two-way lineman) and Ross Zimmerman (5-6, 150; two-way lineman); and sophomore Sam Crisp (6-2, 175; wide receiver/defensive back).
“All our skill kids return. However, we have a boatload of linemen on both sides to replace,” Lee said.
Some of those players include Austin Devier (25 solos, 36 assists), Zach Wilson (8 and 31), Landon Sturgill, Zach Holbrook and Devin Luginbuhl, amongst others.
Assistant coaches are Steve Lemley, Bryant Miller, Kyle Cutnaw, Todd Fleharty and Pat Prichard.
Bluffton opens with long-time rival Cory-Rawson.