WAPAKONETA – After four games last season, Wapakoneta opened with a 2-2 mark but the Redskins rallied to reel off six straight wins to capture a share of the Western Buckeye League title and a slot in the playoffs.
The Redskins might face a similar situation this year when they open with a trip to Marion Local and then face Ottawa-Glandorf, St. Marys and Van Wert. Unlike last season, they will not have the benefit of quarterback Braeden Goulet, an all-league and all-state honoree selection.
Despite this, Wapakoneta head coach Travis Moyer admits replacing Goulet will be tough but is confident this team can accomplish the three goals the Redskin head coach sets every year and that is to win the league, make the playoffs and win the state championship.
The Redskins return 22 letterwinners back from last year’s squad with four on offense and six on defense.
“It is extremely critical in maximizing our time and making sure that we are getting out of it in terms of our preparation and being successful,” Moyer said about the importance of the preseason. “It just happens so quickly now in terms of the first game moved up.”
Offensively, Moyer and his staff will be looking to break in a new signal caller but this is not an unusual situation since the Redskins have had six different quarterbacks in the last nine years. Goulet was one of two players who started two seasons.
Goulet passed for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for more than a thousand yards and scored 16 times.
Moyer said filling not only that number hole but also the leadership Goulet brought will be tough to fill.
“Our offense starts with our quarterback,” Moyer said. “He just had such a phenomenal season for us with the way he ran the ball and threw the ball and it was critical for the success of our offense. You get a little bit of a glimpse of our offense when you have a dynamic kid at quarterback like he was.
“He (Goulet) added so much to our team and not just his presence with what he did but also from a leadership standout. He was a guy that would put us on his back and wasn’t going to allow us to fail.”
Moyer said there are three players, junior Nate Metzger, sophomore Grant Jolley and freshman Cale Moyer, vying for the quarterback spots.
“We will play the best guy that will help us compete and win on a Friday night but right now where are in a position where we need to find a guy who can lead this team. You’re never in a situation where you can replace a guy like Goulet; you just have to do your job.”
Moyer said the quarterback needs to be confident and want to compete at a high level, and be someone that the players can rally behind and adds that he prefers a dual threat quarterback.
Another backfield hole that needs filling is at running back as Jace Mullen, the featured back last year, who rushed for 1,059 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.
“Jace had the ability to make the big play and score from anywhere on the field,” Moyer said. “The great thing about Jace was he had such a great work ethic to put himself in that position,”
Expected to get carries this year is Connor Meckstroth and Joey Truesdale are both returning fullbacks and Moyer describes them as versatile players who can run, block and catch the ball effectively.
Others slated for backfield duties are Jace Knous and Jeffrey Kohler.
“We do feel like we have some players who have the ability to run the ball,” Moyer said. “We have been fortunate to run the ball very well the last several years and obviously if you are going to run the ball it starts with those guys up front.”
A trio of players returns to the offensive line with Jacob Kirkpatrick, Tyler Houser and Nate Schneider. Houser and Kaden Ware are slotted to play tackles. Ryan Price and Devon Steinke are vying for time along with Tim Parsons, Spencer Hurley and Grant Childress.
“We are excited about the guys up front,” Moyer said. “We feel like we have some good guys up front and we feel like we have some depth. Normally in the past, we talk about lack of depth but we do feel like we have some guys in our program that have put themselves in a position to compete for a starting position.”
With the offense looking to break in a new quarterback, the defense appears to be solid with its front seven with six starters back from a team that gave up an average of 16.8 points a contest. The Redskins gave up an average of 150.6 yards through the air and 117 yards on the ground.
“We return six of our front seven,” Moyer said. “We return Mikey Lee and Houser at defensive end. We return Austin Brown and Jayden Rampulla on the defensive line. Kaden Ware ended up on the defensive line and did a good job for us with guys like Andrew Mosler at defensive end.
“We feel like we have some depth on that defensive line. On the interior beside Brown and Rampulla we have Price and Spencer Hurley. We feel like we have some quality players there.”
Returners Truesdale and Meckstroth make up two of the three linebackers with competition ongoing for that third slot between Jeffrey Miller, Knous and Corbin Mitchell.
The one area that needs some major construction is the secondary after graduating all four defensive backs.
A plethora of players is hoping to fill those secondary spots including Jolly, Will Campbell, Angel Coco, Jared Mullen, Grant Stauffer, Jordan Schneider, Nate Metzger and Logan Crow.
“They always say that sometimes your best pass defense is pressure on the quarterback so we need the guys up front to play extremely well for us and get pressure on the quarterback,” Moyer said.
Moyer said that even though there is plenty of work to be done, the expectations remain the same and the three goals remain the same.
“It is our expectation and that is to go out and compete in each and every game and walk off the field with a victory,” Moyer said. “Goal No. 1 is to win a league championship. We have been fortunate enough to be part of six league championships, so that is a big motivator for us in terms of finding a way to be successful and making the playoffs and winning a state championship and that is the one thing that eludes us.”
Coach: Travis Moyer
Years at school, Record: 9th (189-47)
Last year’s record: 9-3
Returning Letterwinners: Tyler Houser (Sr.), Mikey Lee (Sr.), Austin Brown (Jr.), Jace Knous (Jr.), Preston Meyer (Jr.), Connor Meckstroth (Sr.), Corbin Mitchell (Sr.), Jacob Kirkpatrick (Sr.), Logan Crow (Sr.), Spencer Hurley (Jr.), Kaden Ware (Jr.), Andrew Mosler (Sr.), Jayden Rampulla (Jr.), Will Campbell (Sr.), Kyle Beach (Jr.), Jordan Schneider (Sr.), Joey Truesdale (Jr.), Jeffery Kohler (Sr.), Ryan Price (Jr.), Grant Childress (Sr.), Tim Parsons (Sr.), Nate Schneider (Sr.)
Promising Newcomers: Ryan Camper (Sr.), Devon Steinke (Sr.), Nate Buell (Sr.), Trenton Hook (Sr.)
Season Outlook: I’m really excited and confident the upcoming season. I’m a firm believer in that good things happen to those that work hard. Our kids deserve all the credit in the world. They have been dedicated and committed during the off-season and have done everything we have asked of them. Our kids have extremely high expectations of this season and it will be important to take one play and game at a time. There will be highs and lows over the course of this season and we will need to stay patient and enjoy the journey.
August 19 – at Marion Loca
August 26 – Ottawa-Glandorf
September 2 – at St. Marys
September 9 – Van Wert
September 16 – Shawnee
September 23 – at Kenton
September 30 – Elida
October 7 – Bath
October 14 –at Celina
October 21 – Defiance
All games start at 7 p.m.