Coach: Steve Rinker (Fifth year 6-34)
Record last season: 1-9
Returning Starters: OL Brandon Capper, OL Storm Adney, OL Jordan Zirkle, OL Aaron Moore, OL Colten Twibell, TE/DL Zach Dudley (two catches, 57 yards/15 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL), WR/DL Jacob Tobey (10 catches, 119 yards/12 tackles), RB/LB Kien Gee (19 carries, 36 yards/6 tackles), DB/RB Gavin Dyer (27 carries, 79 yards/19 tackles), RB/DB Bryce Bantz (21 carries, 56 yards/52 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT), RB/DB Brandon Barkdull (47 carries, 182 yards/24 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 INT), DL Robert Wilburn (15 tackles, 1 TFL), DL Jakob Stevenson (29 tackles, 4 sacks, 8 TFL), LB Aaron Moore (15 tackles, 1 TFL), DB Chase Mahan (22 tackles, 1 INT), DB Devon Kirkwoood (6 tackles)
Key Losses; QB/DB Trace Oswalt (44-for-124 passing, 596 yards, 103 carries, 380 rushing yards/nine tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL), RB/LB Hunter Tobey (123 carries, 630 yards/51 tackles, 2 sacks, 8 TFL), OL/DL Donnie Green (20 tackles, one sack, three TFL), WR Tryse Hendricks (11 catches 248 yards), DB Taylor Miller (22 tackles, one TFL).
Offense: Veer Option
Season Outlook: After two years of growing pains, the Bruins coaching staff feels the roster is finally stocked with upperclassmen. The team reportedly has close to 60 players out this season after not breaking 40 in past years. While the coaches know there’s room for improvement, the hope the team is making strides, and can possibly build toward something good if it stays healthy.
Rinker’s Comment: “This group has gone through a lot. They have hung in there and now it is time for them to start to turn the corner. We had a good summer averaging around 30 at each workout. Our young freshmen have shown an eagerness to learn and get better which is a good sign for the future. We have a good group from grade 9 to 12. Our coaches are anxious to see what they can do.”
Jay County Patriots
Coach: Tim Millspaugh (Second year, 7-4)
Record last season: 7-4
Returning starters: QB Nick Clemens (412 passing yards, 20 completions, 5 TDs); C Logan Antrim; T Mitch Bennett; T Hunter Prescott; G/DE Brentton Lewis (13 tackles, 1 sack); HB Levi Stant (51 carries, 250 yards); HB Kaleb Toland (94 carries, 507 yards); LB Levi Hummel (52 tackles, 1 sack); DE Jon Blankenship (36 tackles, 6 TFL); CB Cameron Kunkle (26 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 pass deflections); SS Brandon Muhlenkamp (37 tackles, 2 INTs); LB Bryan Stancliffe (23 tackles in four games).
Key losses: FB JD Mangas (1,803 yards rushing, 13 TDs), NG Eric Hemmelgarn (72 tackles, 28 TFL), SS Toby McCallister (69 tackles, 8 TFL, 5 INTs), SS Keenan James (78 tackles and 2 INTs), DE Chase Smith (48 tackles, 4 TFL), G Brent Lewis
Season outlook: The Patriots are entering unchartered territory. They will play in the Allen County Athletic Conference this season, and also added a non-conference game against nearby foe Fort Recovery, Ohio. The Patriots have not been a part of a conference since the Olympic Athletic Conference disbanded at the end of the 2009 season. With a seven-win season a year ago and a large senior class (18) returning, the expectations for this year’s team are high.
Offense: Power T
Millspaugh’s comment: “We are coming off our first winning season since 2007. We have two large holes to fill, Fullback on offense and nose guard on defense, but we return several guys that gained valuable experience last season. After summer workouts, I like the potential of our team. However, our technique must continue to improve. Finally, our motto last year was “Deserve to win” and they took that to heart. This group needs to have the same mentality if we are going to build on last year’s success.”
Monroe Central Golden Bears
Coach: John Hochstetler (Third year, 7-14)
Record last season: 6-5
Returning Starters: RB/DB Marcus Drummer (751 rushing yards, 6 TDs, 38 receptions, 330 yards); RB/DB Beau Combs (327 rushing yards, 4 TDs, 25 receptions, 274 receiving yards, 74 tackles, 7 INTs); RB/DL Payton Hughes (28 tackles, 4 sacks); WR/DB: RJ Sears (24 receptions, 510 yards, 3 TDs); OL/DL Kaiser Phillips (47 tackles, 9 TFL, 2 sacks); DE/OL Dustin Brown (42 tackles, 3 sacks); OL/LB Jordan Sharp (60 tackles), OL Clay Swallow.
Key Losses: QB/DB Bracken Barga (119-for-220 passing, 11 TDs, 1525 passing yards); OL/DE Jesse Reum; OL/LB Conner Elder.
Season Outlook: The Bears are attempting to improve on the first winning season and sectional win in their brief football history. 2014 will be just the fifth season of varsity football. The coaching staff has installed the motto, “High Standards, No Excuses.”
Hochstetler’s comment: “Last year we won six and this year our goal is to win seven!”
Winchester Golden Falcons
Head Coach: Mike Jones (Third year, 13-9)
Record Last Season: 7-4, TEC Champs
Returning Starters: QB/LB Dustyn Hangen (19-for-36 295 yards, 6 TDs, 5 INTs, 56 Carries, 519 yards, 8 TDs, 42 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries); RB/FS Kiante Enis (139 Carries, 1409 yards, 15 TDs, 36 tackles, 6 INTs, 19 Total TDs); G/LB Titus Edwards (89 tackles, 1 sack); OT/DT Elijah Chalfant (78 tackles, 2 sacks); RB/DB Eli Gates (34 tackles).
Key Losses: RB/DB Gatlin Kramer (2-Time All State DB, 123 tackles, 2 INTs, 149 carries, 1,016 yards, 18 TDs); OL/DL Jacob Sofronko (71 tackles); TE/DE Alex Myers (2 receptions, 50 yards, 1 TD, 75 tackles); FB/DE Cleveland Walls (44 carries, 279 yards, 4 TDs, 50 Tackles); G/DT Logan Williams (44 tackles); WR/C Brian Friend; WR/C Jacob Hart; OL Bryant Clark.
Season Outlook: With only seven returning senior players, the Falcons will be young. Their success will depend on continuous improvement in practice and the development of team chemistry.
Jones’ Comment: “For us to be successful this year we will have to count on our young players developing, our older players leading, and continuous hard work on fundamentals.”
New Castle Trojans
Coach: Will Ragle (Second year, 0-10)
Record last season: 0-10
Returning Starters: QB Hank Neal (323 passing yards, 262 rushing yards); RB/LB Cody Werking (64 tackles); Slot/DB Jackson Haynes (67 tackles, 3 INTs); OL/DL Jacob Ledbetter; OL/DL Max Reece; K Ryan Jones(6 field goals, 52-yard long, 2013 4A all state); LB Robbie Witham (34 tackles); Slot/DB Dalton Engle.
Key Losses: LB/FB Nate Gilb (102 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception); DL Ethan Graham (38 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries); RB/LB Spencer Sargent (345 rushing, 12 receptions, 211 receiving yards, 178 kick return yards); OL/DL Jack Griffey; OL/DL Ross Phillips; QB/LB Caleb Smith (211 rushing yard, 146 passing yard, 53 tackles).
Season Outlook: With more experience on the team, the staff hopes it can find ways to compete and get some wins. The roster grew with some strong athletes that didn’t play last year and the hope is they will be a positive for the team.
Ragle’s comment: “We saw improvement as the season went along last year. With an experienced group of juniors and seniors we are expecting to turn close games into wins this year.”