ADA – A year ago, Bob Olwin took over an Ada football team that had gotten quite comfortable at scoring points, winning games and making the postseason.
Olwin’s Bulldogs went 9-4 overall and zipped all the way to the Division VI regional finals on the strength of a punishing defensive front and an offense that jelled as the season went on.
Heading into the 2014 campaign, it seems to be business as usual for Ada.
“We have some really good players back but we do have some holes to fill, you have that every year, so it’s nothing new,” Olwin said. “These players really don’t know anything except winning. That confidence was established by (former coach Mike Fell) and these kids have just continued that. We’ve been to the playoffs eight years in a row so they’ve worked really hard to continue that, they know what it takes to win games and they expect to win.”
And expectations should once again be high for Ada.
The team returns 14 letter winners, 10 of whom were starters a year ago.
The offensive line and the defense front seven especially were wrecking balls for the Bulldogs last year, and should be tough again. Levi Bass (senior, center/outside linebacker) anchors the offensive line and is a fierce defender who had 78 tackles a year ago. Blake Ansley (junior, receiver) is also a major returner after he led the team in receptions last year with 64 for 756 yards and eight TDs and led the defense with 109 tackles.
Noah Beach (senior, guard/defensive tackle) registered 62 tackles a year ago and was another major force as a two-way starter. Dylan Hannah (senior, guard/defensive end) is also a strong returnee as a three-year starter while Justin Shoemaker (junior, OT/DT) is another key starter returning.
“They’ve all looked really good, had good training camps,” Olwin said. “Our strengths are the offensive line, the defensive line and our linebackers. We still have some things we can improve upon, but that’s our strength at this point. And we’ll be very strong in our kicking game. We have a good competition going on there, so I’m looking forward to watching them.”
One spot Ada is working to replace is at the quarterback position with the departure of Matt Wilcox.Looking to fill the spot is freshman Seth Conley, who is battling fellow freshman Chase Sumner and sophomore Trent Jolliff.
“It’s been a learning curve for them and the receivers,” Olwin said. “Learning what we run and everything, but they’ve worked really hard. Seth loves football and he’s improved a great deal since June. He and Chase looked great in our first scrimmage.”
Olwin said the offense overall is a step ahead of last year when the Bulldogs were learning his form of the spread offense.
“The terminology is a lot easier for them this season,” Olwin said. “We can jump in and out of things a lot quicker than last year. We’re just more comfortable.
“I’m looking for us to pick up where we left off last season.”