UNION – The Mike Engler era is here at Ryle, and Raider fans will see how well his high-octane offense kicks in during his first season as head coach.
“Things are going really well,” he said earlier in the summer. “The kids are going really hard and they’re picking up the scheme. It’s a fun team to coach. They seem to be wanting to learn and I think we may surprise some teams this year.”
Engler’s main goal this fall is to install his offensive scheme in Union. That offense helped Lexington Catholic to a lot of wins and points scored when he was offensive coordinator and head coach there, eventually winning two state championships. LC was 218-68 while he was there, and LexCath QBs threw for more than 3,500 yards and 41 touchdowns last season.
The Raiders return a lot of experience from last year’s 2-9 team, and many returning players received playing time in 2013 due to injuries.
The offensive line will be key, especially with the fast pace of the new scheme. The Raiders return four starters up front in Logan Ross, Tucker Teepen, Nick Yowan and Tristan Hall.
Senior Ryan Rytlewski returns at quarterback. He completed 27 passes last year in 64 attempts for 331 yards and two TDs.
“He is catching on pretty quick and learning the system,” Engler said. “He has gone through a lot of camps and things and he understands a lot of that. The biggest aspect is experience.”
Returning targets at receiver include Grant Arnwine, Grant Beagle and Jaret Pogliano. Collin England and Mitchell Bateman return at running back. England had 441 yards total offense last year.
Mike Woolf returns as defensive coordinator, and that side of the ball promises to match the speed and intensity of the offense with blitzes and fast pace, which Engler said Ryle will need because it lacks size on that side of the ball.
Returning in the secondary are Alex Brownell, Gavin Brandt, Nick Townsend and David Rich. Johnny Meiman and Jon Belk return at linebacker.
Overall, Ryle’s preseason roster listed 78 players, which Engler considers a success. One of his main summer goals was building roster depth so as few players as possible play on both sides of the ball.
Depth will be needed against a tough schedule, starting with local rival Cooper Aug. 22. Ryle then hosts defending Class 6A state champion Scott County on Aug. 29, then travels to one of Cincinnati’s top programs in Sycamore on Sept. 5.
“We are coming off two consecutive losing seasons, so we must learn how to win at the varsity level,” Engler said.
Ryle will host Covington Catholic as well in between its four games in the traditionally balanced Northern Kentucky 6A district.
Follow James Weber on Twitter, @JWeberSports
Aug. 22: At Cooper, 7 :30 p.m. (Skyline Crosstown Showdown)
Aug. 29: Vs. Scott County, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5: At Sycamore, 7 :30 p.m.
Sept. 12: At Conner, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19: Vs. Shelby County, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 26: Vs. Simon Kenton, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 3: At Boone County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 10: Vs. Covington Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 17: At Campbell County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 24: Vs. Dixie Heights, 7:30 p.m.