BATH TOWNSHIP – The day before the first scrimmage Bath coach Bill Garland was still assembling his roster.
And when he finished filling it out, there were a number of new names on it.
Bath returns only 12 lettermen and four starters from last year’s 3-7 Wildcats (2-7 Western Buckeye League.).
“We have a lot of new faces and will have a new scheme, offensively, and a new scheme, defensively,” Garland said. “We have an inexperienced football team. That’s where we’re at right now. So the quicker we grow up, the better off we’ll be.’’
The Wildcats return two starters on offense and both are on the offensive line.
Those veterans are offensive tackle Brenden Van Horn (Jr., 6-1, 290) and senior guard Briley Hilyard.
The defensive starters returning are senior cornerback Devon Kinyon and senior linebacker Tyler Wentling.
Big holes have to filled on both sides of the ball, included graduated quarterback Kaden Sullivan and running back/linebacker Bo Gross.
Sullivan ran for 1,073 yards with 12 TDs. In the air, he threw for 989 yards and seven TDs.
Gross ran for 356 yards and three TDs.
“Kaden ran for a 1,000 yards the last two years so we’re going to have to figure that out,” Garland said.
Taking over at quarterback is senior Kobe Burchett.
“He’s mainly played defense (linebacker),” Garland said of Burchett. “He’s very athletic and is really driven. He really wants to play quarterback and has worked at it.’’
The running backs will be Drew Spragg, who has played wide receiver, Micah Cox, sophomore Zach Diller and Kinyon.
The wide receivers will be Zach McGue and Brandon Rable, along with Kinyon.
Braden Bowman and Fielden Deeds will play tight end.
Garland will roll out a two-back, quarterback-under-center offense this year.
He said the offense will resemble a little what former Bath/Lima Central Catholic/Columbus Grove coach Jerry Cooper did with his running game, with plenty of runs off tackle, with dives and jet sweeps mixed it.
“We want to go 70-30 (run) this year,” Garland said. … “We have to be physical up front, obviously, if we want to try to run the football.’’
The defense will play a 4-2-5 this year.
Cornerback Kinyon and linebacker Wentling will be expected to lead the defense. Gross, the kingpin to last year’s defense, has left to play at the Air Force Academy.
“He’s (Wentling) going to have to be that leader on defense,” Garland said.
Willie Wright and Conner Ignarski both saw time on the defensive line.
Gage Butler and Diller are in the mix for the other linebacker slot.
Bath will bring back its traditional opening game with former neighborhood rival Allen East.
“I’m pretty excited about that,” Garland said. “I was a part of that rivalry for a long time. … I was all in favor of getting Allen East back on the schedule and here we are.’’