Five wins may not seem like a lot to a number of teams but Bath it is a sign to head coach Ryan Reindel that the Wildcats are creating a culture of winning and he is looking to continue that trend.
Not since 2015 have the Wildcats posted five wins in a season and to add to the success, Bath made the playoffs.
“We are in the process of rebuilding our program and being competitive in the WBL,” Reindel said. “I thought we took good strides in the season early there and were 5-2 after seven games then injuries kind of plagued us late in the year and we had to move some guys around and we also ran into the toughest part of our schedule.”
Bath dropped an overtime loss to Wapakoneta and then fell to St. Marys and Van Wert before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Liberty-Benton.
“I think we have established a culture of how we practice and how we lift and just how we approach things,” Reindel said. “Our younger saw how the seniors work and so we pick up from there and I think we are heading in the right direction.”
Bath graduated 15 seniors and Reindel said a number of players will have to have the “next man up” mentality to help fill some of the holes left. The Wildcats return nine players and seven seniors on the roster.
“These seven seniors understand the responsibility of rebuilding a program and what it takes and they kind of stepped up and got on our younger kids to make sure they are working just as hard as the guys in the past,” Reindel said.
Offensively, the Wildcats return senior receivers Cody Vandemark and Blaine Albright, along with Skyler Lhamon, who saw time last year in the backfield, will also time at the receiver position. Bath was eighth in total offense in the WBL. Reindel adds that he expects to move Albright around to various spots because he has all the physical gifts to play them all.
Vandermark had 25 catches for 258 yards last year and Albright hauled in 16 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns.
Junior Kahne Sullivan, who saw time under center against Liberty-Benton in the playoffs last year, takes over the signal calling duties for Bath.
“He used that to kind of fuel his offseason work and it has really worked,” Reindel said. “He studied film and worked on his footwork and reading defenses and all those things that come with being a varsity quarterback. He has a really strong arm and makes plays with his feet so we are excited about him.”
Helping Kahne with the transition will be a veteran line that features three starters, Baustin Cheney, Tyshon Davis and Quintin Collins and a fourth that saw time in the trenches. Cheney is a four-year starter and Davis and Collins are both three-year starter.
“We are really excited about this group and it is going to be led by those three (Cheney, Davis nd Collins) to make sure everything goes smooth and they bring the energy every day,” Reindel said.
Reindel said the expectations on offense are simple and that is to control the ball as well as finish off drives.
Last season, the Wildcats averaged 15.8 points a contest.
“When we get in the red zone we have to score points,” Reindel said. “Last year we moved the ball but a penalty or a negative play would set us back and we couldn’t regain anything. We either settled for a field goal or had to punt. When we get the ball in the end zone we need to score points.”
Defensively the philosophy is keeping teams from sustaining drives and scoring points.
The Wildcats gave up an average of 19.6 points a game.
The trio that anchors the offensive line will be the strength of the defense. Last year, the Wildcats ranked third in the team rushing defense but ninth in team passing defense. Joining Davis, Cheney and Collins will be Kory Slaght who saw time last year as a freshman.
Lhamon and Vandermark return in the secondary.
The one area Bath will be rebuilding is at the linebacker spot as they must fill all three slots.
“We are breaking in three new linebackes,” Reindel said. “We are spendintg our off-season trying to find who can play those three positions. We have rotated a lot of kids during our scrimmage and we are still trying to work things out.”
Juniors Dalton Woodruff and Keaton Vernon are the frontrunners to start.
“We have to find guys that can hold up in the WBL,” Reindel said. “We have to tackle really well. We ca’t give up plays. We were one of the top defenses in the league and we have to continue that. Our defensive line is going to be our anchor. We are going to try and control the line of scrimmage and allow our backs to fly to the football.”
Reindel admits the roster numbers are slightly down this year so staying healthy is imperative if the Wildcats are going to post victories.
“We have to play at a very high level with a lot of energy,” Reindel said. “The WBL is a grind and we are going to have to have guys step up and make plays. We talk about the 8 to 10 50-50 plays that happen in a game and we have to win those plays to win games. the last couple of years we have been on the negative side of that and we preach when the ball is in the air we have to get it.”
Coach: Ryan Reindel
Years at School, record: 4 (10-18)
Last year’s record: 5-6
Returning Letterwinners: Cody Vandemark (Sr.), Blaine Albright (Sr.), Skyler Lhamon (Jr.), Kahne Sullivan (Jr.), Tyshon Davis (Sr.), Baustin Cheney (Sr.), Quintin Collins (JR.), Kory Slaght (Soph.), Dalton Woodruff (Jr.)
Promising Newcomers: Cade Price (Sr.), Tuff Sumney (Sr.), Mycal Ehrnsberger (Sr.), Keaton Vernon (Jr.), Preston Young (Soph.), Vinny Vendetta (Soph.)
Season Outlook: We graduated 15 seniors a year ago and there will be a lot of underclassman on the field this year. We will lean on our experienced players to step up and lead. Our team has spent a lot of time in the weight room this offseason to prepare for the physicality of the WBL.
August 19 – at New Bremen
August 26 – at Shawnee
September 2 – Kenton
September 9 – at Elida
September 16 – Ottawa-Glandorf
September 23 – at Celina
September 30 – Defiance
October 7 – at Wapakoneta
October 14 – St. Marys
October 21 – Van Wert
All games start at 7 p.m.