DELPHOS – It was just two years ago that Delphos Jefferson was winless in six games during the 2020 season.
So last year marked a year on the rise with the Wildcats’ 3-8 season.
Not only that, but the Wildcats gave Coldwater a very competitive game in a 49-35 loss in the opening round of the playoffs last season.
“When we drew Coldwater in the playoffs, I didn’t know how they would respond,” Jefferson coach Ben Rahrig said. “But they left their hearts on the field.
“I felt we made some progress last year, but several other games we were right in, but one or two things happened. We could have won those games. We have to get over the hump and win those tight ballgames.’’
The good news for the Wildcats is they return 10 seniors, including several who have played since their freshman.
There are eight returning starters on offense and all 11 are back on defense.
“They have more confidence and practices are running smoother,” Rahrig said, who is in his fourth year at Jefferson. “It’s the same offense and the same defense.’’
Gone is quarterback Colin Bailey, the Northwest Conference co-offensive player of the year. He threw for 1,482 yards and 17 TDs. He also ran for 1,236 yards and 16 TDs.
How can any team replace that in one season?
“Colin was our offense last year,” Rahrig said. “We had a young offensive line and he made a
lot of plays with his feet. He also threw the ball all over the place.’’
Bailey has moved on to play at Tiffin.
Taking over at quarterback is senior Trent Teman, who was a starting wide receiver and linebacker last year. He was also the backup quarterback.
“Trent is very smart and prepares for the games,” Rahrig said. “He knows the scouting report, knows his job and knows everyone else’s job.
“He’s showed in seven-on-sevens he can throw the ball. He’s also a state qualifier in the 400, so he can run. He’s not shifty, but in the open field, he’s hard to track down. He’s getting more confidence in where to place balls and make reads.’’
With Teman’s speed, expect him to run plenty of run-pass option plays.
The Wildcats have several playmakers returning, including wide receiver Andrew Miller, who had 48 catches for 631 yards and
10 TDs. He added a 99-yard TD catch against Ada. In the same game, Miller had a 52-yard interception return for a TD.
Miller was second team all-NWC last year.
“He (Miller) has a confident attitude and is smart and in the right place,” Rahrig said. “He’s athletic and can make some plays.’’
Also back are tight end Tanner Voorhees (14 catches, 257 yards, five TDs) and Cody Bailey (29 catches, 268 yards).
Braylon Scalf saw action at wide receiver, as well, a year ago.
The running back room returns Cole Hoersten, who will have his work load increase with the graduation of Colin Bailey.
“As soon as last season was over, we met with our 10 seniors,” Rahrig said. “We told Cole he has to get us some yards this year. He’s gotten stronger and faster.’’
There’s plenty of experience up front with returnees center Eli Kill, guard Logan
Murray, tackle Jesse Long and tackle Matt Weitzel.
“The offensive line is the key unit,” Rahrig said. “They’re going to have to move the ball and maintain drives.’’
On defense, the line returns ends Daniel Myers and Voorhees, along with tackles Xach Houx, Long and Weitzel.
Murray and Teman will be veteran linebackers in the middle of the defense.
The secondary will be led by cornerback Scalf (five interceptions) and safety Miller (four interceptions).
Hoersten is back at a safety spot, while Cody Bailey returns at cornerback.
“It’s nice having a lot of seniors, with the vibe they put out,” Rahrig said.
Coach: Ben Rahrig
Year at School, Record: 4th year (4-23)
Last year’s record: 3-8 (1-6 NWC)
Returning Lettermen: 15
Returning Starters: Cole Hoersten (Sr., RB/S); Eli Kill (Sr., C); Logan Murray (Sr., G/LB); Tanner Voorhees (Sr., TE/DE); Cody Bailey (Sr., WR/CB); Andrew Miller (Sr., WR/S); Jesse Long (Jr., OT/DT); Matt Weitzel (Jr., OT/DT); Daniel Myers (Sr., DE); Xach Houx (Jr., DT); Trent Teman (Sr., LB); Braylon Scalf (Sr., CB);
Offense: Spread, 1-back, option reads
Player to Watch: Wide receiver/defensive back Andrew Miller had 48 catches for 631 yards and 10 TDs, including a 99-yard TD against Ada. He also was a standout at defensive back with a 52-yard interception for a TD.
Top Newcomers: Tyler Wilkins (Jr., WR/S); Carter Agner (Soph., LB/RB/TE).
August 20 – Delphos St. John’s
August 26 – at Ayersville
September 2 – at Perry
September 9 – at Columbus Grove
September 16 –Crestview
September 23 –at Ada
September 30 – at Allen East
October 7 – Leipsic
October 14 – Bluffton
October 21 – Spencerville
All games start at 7 p.m