Suffice to say 2012 will not be missed by the Crestview football program.
The Cougars were an uncharacteristic 2-8, including a 1-6 mark in the Firelands Conference. This was a program that won the 2011 league title, and captured loop championships in 2001, 2004 and 2006.
Crestview’s players, coaches and fans all expect better this season, and there’s talent on tap to inspire that thinking, too.
“Our two running backs combined for 2,000 yards rushing,” coach Chad Coffman said. “We return four of five starters on the line and one who played frequently because of injuries.”
The terrific tandem averaged 5.6 yards per carry apiece. Senior Aaron King (5-foot-10, 185 pounds), who collected 1,132 yards and 7 touchdowns last season, amassed 201 attempts. His running mate is senior Jay Hill (6-2, 185), who just missed the four-figure barrier with 965 yards and 14 TDs on 171 carries.
They will follow the lead of senior center Logan Campbell (5-9, 200 pounds), senior guards Gavin Montgomery (5-11, 215) and Ethan Boardman (5-11, 235), and tackles Brett Chance (5-10, 255) and junior Jordan Prise (6-1, 240).
Sophomore Konnor Hickey (5-9, 185) and freshman Tyler Brown (6-2, 205) are penciled in at tight end. Nick Hout paces the receiver rotation after catching 13 passes for 223 yards and a pair of scores. Seniors Lance Witmer and Zack Giles, junior Dakota Shafer and sophomores Grant Fulk and Tanner Noblet all in the mix.
Senior quarterback Nick Wheeler completed 75 of 146 attempts for 1,013 yards, 6 TDs and 9 INTs. The coaching staff believes improvement has been made at this spot.
“Nick Wheeler will return at quarterback, and he has worked hard and gotten bigger and stronger,” Coffman said. “He now has a year of experience under his belt.”
The Cougars will operate out of the Power-I, and figure to improve on last year’s offensive average of 20.7 points per game.
Likewise, the defense needs to shave the 35.5 points per game it allowed.
Ten starters return to the 3-4 alignment with Hill and Campbell as the top stoppers at linebacker, supported by Hickey, Ethan Bedoes and Dawson LeFever. Campbell is the leading returning tackler with 92 hits, while Hill was in on 51.
Up front, Chance and Montgomery are the stalwarts, junior Dan Sousa figures to start, too. Freshmen Chandler Prise and Brown offer support.
Seniors King, Hout and Wheeler patrol the secondary. Hout had 60 tackles and two interceptions last fall, while King compiled 57 stops with an interception. Shafer, Fulk and Noblet are all competing for playing time, too.
“We will look to return to a physical Crestview defense,” Coffman said.
Norwalk St. Paul was voted the top spot in the preseason poll, and Coffman concurred with that analysis.
“St. Paul is the favorite in a very balanced Firelands Conference that is probably as good top to bottom as it has been,” Coffman said.