10. Which team will change its offensive approach this year?
Delphos St. John’s graduated tailback Tyler Jettinghoff and fullback Luke MacLennan, along with several offensive linemen. Coach Todd Schulte will go away from the power-I and power sweep and go with a one-back, option approach. It will be hard to imagine the Blue Jays without their favorite power sweep, but look for more passing and more runs out of the option.
9. What can coach Doug Frye do at St. Marys?
Win, he’s already proven that. He won at Wapakoneta and he was a winner at St. Marys in his first time there.
But this time, don’t expect miracles. This St. Marys team has lost 21 in a row.
But Frye will peak interest in the program, drive the numbers on the roster up and will get his team prepared for every game. His teams will execute, hit hard and he will win. Just don’t expect him to wave a magic wand this season.
8. Which teams are poised for a turnaround season?
Bath has a good opportunity to improve on its 4-6 mark of a year ago. It returns 16 starters, including its quarterback and running back. It needs to improve its defense and will be young at wide receiver.
Shawnee should also show improvement. It has 10 starters back from a 2-8 team. The key is the return to health of 210-pound running back Angelo Fox, who missed the second half of last year.
And don’t count out a bounce-back year from Elida, which slipped to 5-5. The passing game should be high octane, but the key will be on defense.
7. Is there a quarterback you would drive miles to see?
Coldwater’s Brody Hoying put on a great show in the Division V state championship game, in which Coldwater bounced Bishop Hartley, 24-7. Hoying ran for 145 yards and three TD and also threw for 83 yards. He can do a little bit of everything, run, throw, lead and does it all every night. He’s headed to Eastern Michigan.
6. Who will be some of the top running backs in the area to watch?
Start with Lima Senior’s Juniel Liles, he was first team all-Three Rivers Athletic Conference The Lima News’ Dream Team’s offensive player of the year. Marion Local returns 5-10 Jacy Goettemoeller, who battled injuries last year and still ran for 852 yards and 22 TDs. If he can stay healthy, he can be one of the best backs in the region. Crestview will feature 200-pound Malcolm Oliver on a squad bringing back 18 starters from a second-round playoff team. Leipsic’s Jordan Chamberlin will be one of the top backs in the Blanchard Valley Conference.
5. What happens to “Air Kenton” now that Mike Mauk is coaching high school in Missouri?
Kenton will continue to throw under its new coach Brent Fackler. The names will change at quarterback and wide receiver, but the offense will remain high powered. Taking over for Grant Sherman will be sophomore Trent Hites, who led the team in the summer seven-on-seven tournaments/camps. Among his veteran wide receivers will be Kollin Stollar, Colyn Backford, Luke Jackson and Conner Jones.
4. What is the big rule change this season?
It’s the new “mercy” rule, which kicks in this season. Any time a team is ahead by 30 or more points in the second half, the game will go to a running clock. The game will only be stopped for an official’s timeout or injury, change of possession, a charged timeout, at end of a period or on a score,
3. How will Lima Central Catholic do under its new coach Scott Palte?
LCC graduated a number of key cogs from last year, including Mykale Rogers, Kalito Lasenby, Darius West and quarterback Colin Stolly.
But instead of the ground-it-out approach of former coach Jerry Cooper, coach Scott Palte will put the ball in the air. His quarterback will be Ethan O’Connor and he has a host of fast receivers like Dimitri Floyd, Cam White and Nick Taflinger. Palte, the former head coach at Columbus Grove, will keep the T-Birds heading toward their goal, the playoffs.
2. Where does Lima Senior go after its 5-5 turnaround season last year, the Spartans’ first .500 season since 2000?
On the plus side, the Spartans have The Lima News’ Dream Team Offensive Player of the Year returning in running back Juniel Liles. Also back is Dream Team wide receiver 6-4 junior Ruben Flowers. The key is replacing graduated quarterback Justice Graham.
Coach Mike Fell’s high-powered offense should continue to roll. But the Spartans must improve on a defense which gave up 45 points per game.
1. Which teams have the best chance to at reaching the state championship game in Columbus?
You have probably heard this one before, but Marion Local and Coldwater should once again be the teams to beat in the Midwest Athletic Conference. And, as we know, once they battle it out for the top spot in the MAC, it’s time to book their tickets for at least the state semifinals.
Marion Local graduated its quarterback, but returns Goettemoeller at tailback. Don’t rule out the three-time defending state champion.
Quarterback Brody Hoying is back to lead the defending champion Cavaliers. He dominated the state title game last year.