1. MARION LOCAL. Sure, Marion Local (15-0, 8-0 MAC) graduated QB Dustin Rethman and TB Jacy Goettemoeller. But the Flyers still have seven starters to build around, including first-team all-state WR Hunter Wilker. The Flyers have won 37 straight games and four straight state titles. Until they actually lose a game, this is a no-brainker. The Flyers have earned this top spot.
2. COLDWATER. Imagine, a three-time defending state champion Coldwater (14-1, 7-1 MAC) not picked as the league favorite, but that’s what we have here. Coldwater graduated first team all-state QB Brody Hoying and first team all-state DL Mitch Fullenkamp. But the Cavaliers return seven starters on offense and four on defense, including DB Aaron Harlamert. Just remember over the last 20 years, the Cavs are 232-42 with five state titles.
3. MINSTER. The defending Division VI state champion Minster (12-3, 5-3 MAC) returns its QB Josh Nixon and is picked third in the league? This is the MAC, the owner of three state champions last football season. Nixon is the best QB in the league, firing for 417 yards and five TDs in the state title game. He also has two of his top WRs back in Bryce Schmiesing and Jacob Dues. Let the offensive fireworks begin.
4. ST. HENRY. The Redskins (6-4, 4-4 MAC) return their QB Mitchel Stammen and 1,000-yard rusher Jesse Niekamp. If their offensive line jells, the Redskins can return to the playoffs.
5. VERSAILLES. Versailles (7-5, 5-3 MAC) went to the playoffs last year, and it returns 22 lettermen, including 1,500-yard rusher Collin Peters, who is being recruited by Ivy League schools. The Tigers have nine returning starters, which should translate into another playoff appearance.
6. FORT RECOVERY. Fort Recovery (7-5, 4-4 MAC) went to the playoffs last year, and it returns QB Caleb Martin and his top WR, Wes Wenning. Look for another good season and playoff appearance from the Indians.
7. DELPHOS ST. JOHN’S. The Blue Jays (4-7, 2-6 MAC) reached the playoffs again last year but ended up 4-7. The Blue Jays return seven starters. They’ll roll out a new QB and a new tailback this year. They do return three receivers back, Aaron Reindel, Eric Vogt and Jordan Mohler. This is a young team, with only two seniors, Mohler and OL/DL Trent Closson, among the returning starters.
8. ANNA. Anna (5-5, 4-4 MAC) has a new coach in Nick Marino, who coached at Urbana last year. Marino plans to roll out the spread offense. He has five returning starters, who will go both ways, including three WRs. Sophomore Travis Meyer will take over at QB.
9. PARKWAY. Parkway (1-9, 1-7 MAC) returns its QB Justin Barga and TB Sage Dugan in its spread offense. The key will be how quickly the young line develops.
10. NEW BREMEN. New Bremen (0-10, 0-8 MAC) has a first-year coach in Chris Schmidt who takes over a program which has lost 24 in a row. Sophomore Avery Powers will be the QB. The good news is 40 players are on the roster, which is up from the last few years.