WAPAKONETA – For the last three years, Wapakoneta has either won or shared the Western Buckeye League title and there is no reason to believe that they will be battling for a fourth this year with a host of talent and experience returning.
Under the guidance of head coach Travis Moyer, the Redskins have three goals that remain the same each year and that is to win the league, make the state playoffs and win state champion.
“Fortunately for us we were able to accomplish two of those three goals last year and we continue to build and set the expectation high in our program.”
Yes, the Redskins lose “Mr. Everything,” Landon Hall, who was the team’s leading rusher and best defender as well as John Bourne (second team, All-WBL, Ryan Lowden (first-team, All-WBL) Kais Chiles (first-team, All-WBL) and Adam Waler and Maddux Liles.
Moyer said the outgoing seniors leave one of the long lasting legacy after winning 42 games in their four years but know it is time for this year’s team to make their own history.
“Our players understand we have great expectations in this program and to understand to have an opportunity to get to that level and compete at that level you have to pay the price and that price is having outstanding a great offseason and understanding how important the weight room is,” Moyer said.
Five returners are back on offense and they include a solid core of players who contributed to the Redskins’ success last year. Back are Rob Gerstner, who saw time in the backfield where he rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns and Jace Copeland who had eight receptions for 69 yards to highlight some of the skilled players.
On the offensive line, Tyler Jenkins, a second team, All-WBL performer is back, along with Wyatt Moyler and Brenan Knueve.
“One thing we are going to have to continue to improve on is or depth on both sides of the ball in terms of front people,” Moyer said.
Expect the base wing-T formation from the Redskins offense and Moyer said they have an abundance of players who can successfully execute the offense.
“We will have some new wrinkles this year to fit our personnel,” Moyer said. “But we also understand how important it is to have a consistent philosophy and build on that philosophy and I think this is our fourth year with our offense and we continue to see it grow and blossom.”
Like the offense, the defense sees five starters that include linebackers Zach Miller, who recorded 32 tackles and five sacks and Gerstner, who notched 44.5 tackles with three interceptions. In the defensive backfield, the Redskins return Mitchell Apple who had 39 tackles and two interceptions and Copeland who notched one interception and 19.5 tackles.
“I think the thing we are trying to build on defensively is getting as much speed as possible and to play fast on that side of the ball and create turnovers,” Moyer said. “We feel very good about the pieces we have there. For a chance to win a league title we have got to be exceptional on defense.”
With some newer faces on both sides of the ball, Moyer said he and his coaching staff is stressing communication to make sure people are in the right spots and understand their assignments.”
Moyer said Wapakoneta is fortunate to a lot of numbers so the Redskins reload and do not rebuild.
“I think each and every year you are going to see a little bit of a turnover for us so some of our players will have to wait their time to playand fortunately for us the one thing we challenge our senior group is ‘we want your best year as a senior.’”
Senior leadership will be counted on to help guide the inexperienced players and develop some sort of team chemistry that becomes the formula for success.
“I think the people need to understand is that each and every year it is a new season and just because we have been successful in the past does not guarantee you that you will be successful this year. I think our kids buying into the offseason conditioning program gives us the opportunity to compete for a championship. Hopefully along with the way the ball bounces our way but I think chemistry is important and have to understand there are going to be lows and highs throughout the season. It is the journey that means the most.”