1. St. Marys – The Roughriders won the Western Buckeye League by two games last year and have the numbers and skilled players to three-peat as champions. St. Marys lost some valuable pieces from last year’s team up front but return top running back Sean Perry and a host of other talented players.
2. Celina – Grand Lake St. Marys neighbors Celina lost a couple of key games and the Bulldogs narrowly missed the playoffs. With the trio of top offensive lineman Seth Huston, quarterback Brett Schwitterman and running back Kyle Zizelman that highlights a team that returns 15 seniors the experienced Bulldogs should be in the mix.
3. Wapakoneta — For the first time since Travis Moyer arrived in Wapakoneta the Redskins failed to make the playoffs and early losses prevented them from making a serious run at the WBL title. Expect the Redskins to rebound from their 6-4 records as Brady Erb returns as quarterback along with key members back in the trenches opening holes for Evan Kaeck.
4. Van Wert – Van Wert returns 16 starters from last year’s squad that went 5-5 last season. Led by quarterback Nate Place and Drew Bagley and a veteran defense the Cougars look to be in the WBL title chase.
5. Kenton – The Wildcats were hit by injuries last year that led to a 5-5 record. The good news is that a lot of young talent got to see playing time and eight returners are back on defense. On offense Jaron Sharp who passed for more than 3,300 yards, rushed for more than 1,000 yards and accounted for 47 touchdowns is poised for another great season.
6. Ottawa-Glandorf – Like Kenton Ottawa-Glandorf was slammed with injuries especially at the quarterback position. This year the Titans will be led by Jeremy Leopold at the quarterback spot and with returners on the offensive line and in the linebacking corps Ottawa-Glandorf appears ready to regain its winning ways.
7. Shawnee – New head coach Jerry Cooper inherits a team that got out to a quick start but injuries and lack of consistent play had the Indians finish with a 4-6 mark. Quarterback Johnn Caprella should benefit under Cooper’s tutelage and Shawnee has some talented skilled players also back so the Indians might surprise some teams this year.
8. Elida – Elida had a big year after finishing 8-2 in the regular season and making the playoffs before bowing out in the first round. But the majority of that talent was lost to graduation so the Bulldogs have a lot of holes to fill and will rely on some of its younger players to produce if Elida is going to vie for a league title.
9. Defiance – The Bulldogs struggled through a 1-9 season and are still rebuilding. Expect to see improvement from Defiance as they return a host of talent. Top running back J.D. McNett, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards is back for his senior season.
10. Bath – New head coach Bryant Miller takes over a team that won one game last year and three the previous season. Miller will try to shape the Wildcats back into winners with four starters back on offense and five on defense.