BATH TOWNSHIP – Both the emphasis and much of the experience will be on the defensive side of the ball for Bath’s football team this year.
“We’ve put a big emphasis on defense. We feel to take the next step around here, we’ve got to be good on defense,” coach Bill Garland said.
“We put a lot of our better players on defense, and we’re looking for that group to lead us. If the defense is playing well, we’ll have a chance to win every game,” he said. “Our defensive front seven is the most experienced (position group) on the football team. We’re looking for those guys to lead us on defense.”
The Wildcats, 4-6 overall and 4-5 in the Western Buckeye League last season, have been 4-6 both of Garland’s two seasons as head coach. They will be looking to go over the .500 mark overall and in the WBL for the first time since 2003.
Bath’s defense will have six of last year’s top 10 tacklers back this season, led by defensive lineman Kyle Lhamon, a second-team All-Western Buckeye League selection a year ago, who was second on the team with 79 tackles.
Linebacker Bo Gross (70 tackles), linebacker Dylan Burkholder (59 tackles) and defensive lineman Tyler Shobe (57 tackles) are among 10 overall returning starters for the Wildcats.
Chase Clark, who led Bath in rushing with 414 yards last season, veteran offensive linemen like Easton Rudasill, Billy Nichols, Tyler Shobe and Burkholder at tight end are back. Sullivan, Clark, Gross and Tre Terry all could get carries in the running game.
The passing game will be led by a new quarterback and new receivers.
Kaden Sullivan, a junior who rushed for 141 yards as a tailback in the season opener against Lima Central Catholic last season, will take over at quarterback. He spent most of last season injured, missed three games and completed 4 of 7 passes for 21 yards in limited time at QB last year.
Last season’s top three pass catchers graduated, and no returning player had more than six receptions in 2014. Jordan Berens, Logan Shafer, Andy Ducker, Elijah Mather and Burkholder could be Sullivan’s top targets.
From 2013 to 2014, the Wildcats lowered their defensive average and cut down on turnovers. One of the goals this year is to be better finishers in close games. Two of last year’s losses were to a pair of playoff teams, by five points to Lima Central Catholic and by six points to Kenton.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.