There are young teams. Then there’s Port Clinton.
“If we were to start a team right now, we’d probably be starting seven sophomores on offense … four being on the offensive line,” said new Redskins coach Beau Carmon at Monday’s Sandusky Bay Conference Football Coaches Media Day at Sawmill Creek Golf Course. “I think we’ll have one senior starting on both offense and defense.”
The Redskins were picked last by both the media and the coaches in the preseason polls.
Carmon, a young coach in his 30s, said being hired for the Port Clinton coaching job back in February was the pinnacle of his coaching career. But he’ll have plenty of challenges ahead as he inherits a group coming off a 1-9 season filled with high expectations at the start of the season after consecutive 5-5 campaigns. He replaces Toby Hammond who retired in December after nine seasons.
Just like his predecessor, Carmon comes to Port Clinton from Tiffin Calvert, where he served as defensive coordinator this past fall. The Senecas went 7-5, losing to McComb in the second round of the OHSAA Division VI playoffs. He served as the head football coach at Fostoria from 2009 to 2011.
“We’re going to bring back credibility,” Carmon said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take. Hopefully sooner than later we’re going to bring it back. I think our league will only be a better league once we turn things around.”
Back for Port Clinton are five returning letter winners. Missing, however, will be senior play-maker Brock Moore who snapped his leg playing basketball this summer. Moore would have been one of what is now five seniors on the team and a two-way starter for the Redskins.
Senior defensive back and wide receiver Corey Beal will serve as a team captain, along with junior free safety Jessee Escobedo. Sophomore Brandon Moore has been starting at quarterback during summer 7-on-7s.
“We’ll need as much leadership as we can get from those five seniors.” Carmon said.
Another SBC team that could be considered young, just because the team dynamic has changed so much is defending league champion Perkins. The Pirates, 10-2 a year ago and a perfect 7-0 in league play, were the unanimous favorites to win the league again according to the league coaches. They topped Huron in both the media and coaches polls, which were a mirror image of one another. Clyde was third, Oak Harbor fourth and Edison fifth.
Perkins returns second-team all-league picks in Dale Irby (WR/defensive back), Chase Green (defensive lineman), David Doster (defensive back) and Kyle Lewis (defensive lineman). Gone, however, is Aaron Mawhirter, last year’s SBC Most Outstanding Performer at linebacker and tight end, who will play football at Ohio State University, along with his first-team teammates Brandon Smith (quarterback), Mitch Benkey (running back) and Geno Zappa (offensive tackle).
“We kind of figured that,” said Pirates coach Jason Ziegler said on being labeled the favorite this year. “We lost some quality guys, it’ll just give our younger guys more of an incentive to step up and compete. Our whole off-season has been about competition for positions.
“Hopefully, we can live up to being the favorite and try to get better everyday.
“We lost some great leaders. We’ll have 25 seniors, but we got a small junior class, so some sophomores will have to step up. We’ll have nine starters back on defense and seven on offense, but there’s definitely a different dimension out there.”
Having gone 20-10 the past three years, including 7-3 (5-2 in the SBC) a year ago, Oak Harbor is hoping the get over the proverbial hump and make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Rockets were 10th a year ago in the final Division IV, Region 14 playoff standings after a Week 10 (39-14) loss at Perkins.
“We’ve been 5-2 now the last three years in the SBC,” sixth year Oak Harbor coach Mike May said. “Last year we got off to a pretty decent start at 6-1, then went over to Clyde (a 68-21 loss) and we were feeling too good about ourselves and ran into a buzzsaw where we didn’t quite finish the season the way we wanted to.”
The Rockets lost their all-time leading rusher Mark Konieczny, along with a talented group of graduated seniors. Four starters return on both offense and defense for Oak Harbor, including senior Ben Genzman who will replace Konieczny in the backfield.
May said he expects his team’s strenght up front to be a strength.
“We have some pretty decent size coming through with our junior offensive linemen,” he said. “We’ll need to build some depth, though, just like everybody else.”
The linebacking core should be the strength of the Rockets’ defensive unit.”