COLDWATER — Five straight trips to the state championship game including back-to-back state championships is what's in the rear-view mirror for the Coldwater Cavaliers.
This year's team is focused on the future, however, and not its past.
“We address that (focusing on the future) quite a bit,” coach Chip Otten said. “We talk about not taking things for granted. Just because you are Coldwater does not mean you are going to win and make the playoffs. Having experienced coaches and doing the things that got you here is what we talk about. You remind them. You practice and coach them up.”
The offense is led by all-Ohio and reigning offensive player of the year in Division V, Brody Hoying. Last season as a junior Hoying carried the ball 216 times for 1,860 yards and 33 touchdowns. Through the air, he completed 137 of 234 passes for 1,904 yards and 21 scores.
Hoying is headed to Eastern Michigan.
“The position he plays he touches the ball on every play,” Otten said. “Offensively, because of his skill level and ability he'll be the fastest, quickest and probably smartest player on the field. He's such a difference maker at the high school level.”
Hoying's top returning target is Derek Thobe, who caught 17 passes for 238 yards and two scores.
Finding quality skill players for Hoying will be important for the Coldwater passing attack. Kraig Schoenherr (1 catch, 45 yards), Aaron Harlamert (4 catches, 54), and Kyle McKibben (3 catches, 3 yards) have limited experience.
Although Hoying does most of the running, Schoenherr and Chris Post return after combining for 410 yards on 66 carries last year.
The offensive line returns nearly intact. Guards Blake Spangler (5-10, 240) and Caleb Madaj (6-1, 270), join tackles Malave Bettinger (6-1, 220) and Nick Clune(6-2, 205) to pave the way for an offense that averaged 36.1 points and 345 yards per game last season.
Defensively, Hoying will patrol the secondary. Last season he recorded 89 tackles, picked off four passes, returning one for a score. Thobe will join Hoying in the secondary and will hold down the unit until other players develop.
Up front, Nick Clune, Mitch Fullenkamp return. Fullenkamp made 113 stops including nine sacks last season. Clune made 56 stops and nine sacks.
As a unit the Cavaliers allowed just 13.7 points per game last season.
The linebackers are led by CJ Seibert, who made 92 tackles last season and Jake Schmidt with 101.
The Cavaliers start the season with non-conference juggernauts Kenton and Columbus Bishop Hartley before opening the Midwest Athletic Conference.
“We think we have to win one of the first two to get in (to the playoffs),” Otten said. “We are the only Division V school in our conference, so it's a battle.”