BATH TOWNSHIP — After years of competing against each other, some of the best players from the Western Buckeye League will take the field as teammates on Friday.
The WBL squad, led by coach Jared Rolfes and his Celina staff, will take on an All-Star squad comprised of Northwest Conference and Midwest Athletic Conference players in the 14th annual Van Wert County Hospital All-Star game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Van Wert’s Eggerss Stadium.
“The first thing I realized is how good some of the teams were and now you realize why,” Rolfes said. “You look at some of the talent levels they have and you know why you got beat or you couldn’t pull it out.”
Rolfes is pleased with the chemistry his players have heading into Friday.
“It’s nice to see the kids intermix and develop friendships,” Rolfes said. “Watching the kids develop the relationships is really neat. The linemen seem to be all clicking together and some of the skill guys kind of hang out together.”
The WBL team will feature a 4-3 defense with four big defensive linemen up front. It might be the back end of the defense that could be the key to their success.
Cody Rolland (Shawnee) is one of of the defensive backs that the NWC/MAC will have to look out for.
“We’ve been shutting down the pass everyday in practice,” Rolland said. “We’re really fast, we have some of the fastest guys from our league in our secondary.”
Rolland, who will be majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati this fall, is looking forward to playing under the lights one last time.
“Getting one more shot to play football (is the best part of this game),” Rolland said. “All of the guys you kind of hated during the year and kind of looked out for, it’s good to play with them now.”
Ottawa-Glandorf’s Matthew Samuelson will help out the defense with his play up front.
“You’ve learned the last four years that you kind of hate these guys,” Samuelson said. “Now you’re coming out here and having a blast. You’re all-skill and all-stars, as we were told when we were selected to the team.”
Samuelson plans on majoring in accounting at The Ohio State University this fall.
The WBL offense will feature a spread look that hopes to move the chains, but also take shots deep when necessary.
“Our biggest strength is our offensive line,” Rolfes said. “Up front we’re seven deep with really good players. We’re also pretty good at quarterback and running back.”
One of the leaders up front will be Bath’s Andrew Garland.
“We have a lot of size and that’s our strength,” Garland said. “It’s fun to all come together. I think our line looks pretty solid right now.”
Garland will continue his football career at Urbana in the fall.