WAPAKONETA – Under head coach Travis Moyer, Wapakoneta has three goals at the beginning of the season. The Redskins want to win the Western Buckeye League, make the playoffs and win the state title.
None of these goals were met last season as the Redskins endured an up and down 6-4 season with a 6-3 league mark. However, Moyer expects to reverse that trend and accomplish all three of the goals this year.
“We have extremely high expectations in our program and we didn’t meet those goals. Nobody was more disappointed than the players and the coaches,” Moyer said. “That is not to say our kids did not give 100 percent effort, unfortunately for us we came up a little bit short.”
Moyer added that injuries and turnovers got the Redskins off to a slow start and put them in an early hole before making a strong charge at the end of the season.
“Hopefully we understand the importance of little things and hopefully they understand championships are not given to you every year and this year is no exception and no different,” Moyer said.
Moyer is optimistic the Redskins can achieve these goals and has the nucleaus of players who gained valuable experience, along with a number of newcomers, ready to play at the varsity level.
Even though the Redskins lost some talent to graduation, Moyer said Wapakoneta is fortunate to have good numbers and he expects a number of players to fill in void left by the graduating seniors.
“We are always going to lose people and it is our responsibility as coaches to have guys ready to go and replace them and step in,” Moyer said.
One advantage the Redskins have this year is the return of Brady Erb behind the center. Moyer said this is the first time in his five years at Wapakoneta that he has a signal calller back from last year.
Erb, a senior, passed for 768 yards and eight touchdowns. He is also a threat to run the ball.
“Obviously it has helped him tremendously the experience he received last year and hopefully it carries over to this year and he has the opportunity have a great and successful season,” Moyer said.
Also back is Evan Kaeck, who emerged as a weapon from the backfield, after he rushed for 782 yards and nine touchdownsand was named a second team all-wbl performer. Moyer described Kaeck as a physical type runner with some toughness that the Redskins will need from him this year.
Erb will also have returning receivers Reed Merricle and Eliyjah Roa as targets.
But Moyer knows the games are won in the trenches and he is focusing on adding depth to an offensive line.
Back on the offensive line are Devin McBride and Brenan Knueve but Moyer said the rest of the guys are “new faces” and Moyer will look to them to gel as an line quicker than later.
“The one thing we take pride in offensively is paying well up front so we have new guys up there who need to step up and they are working hard to do that,” Moyer said. “For us to be successful we have to win that game up front.
Moyer admitted that last year the team did not execute as well as they could have and turned the ball over in crucial situations that were part of the team’s early setbacks.
“We are excited about the guys coming back on offense and we need to execute at a high level, “ Moyer said. “Last year we did not execute at a high level last year and turned the ball over too much.”
Defensively, the Redskins remains solid and returns six starters and they include Knueve and Meeks on the defensive line, Kaeck, an-all conference performer at linebacker, and three defensive backs in Aaron Chambers, Erb and Gibson. Kaeck had 43.5 tackles last year with three interceptions and Gibson had two interceptions with 26.5 tackles.
“Championships are won on the defensive side and we have to get back to a defense that forces turnovers, a defense that can get off the field and a defense that can get a stop when we need it,” Moyer said. “We take great pride in playing great defense and I think it starts with our back end.”
With three of his defensive backs returning, Moyer remains confident the Redskin defense can excel. But like the offense, the Redskin coach will look to some newcomers to step up.
Moyer expects another tough season and he sees the league as being as tough as ever with the addition of Jerry Cooper to Shawnee and Ottawa-Glandorf returning to a the forefront after a rash of injuries sidelined the Titans season.
“I have great respect for the Western Buckeye League and the one thing I have learned in my five years heres each and every week is a grind and every week there has to be a high level of preparation and what it takes to be successful,” Moyer said. “From week two on you are playing for a league championship.”