ST. MARYS – This will be the final season at Skip Baughman field and there is plenty of construction being done at the future home of the St. Marys football field but head coach Doug Frye is focused on the present and preparing for the team’s first game.
“I wouldn’t say it was a distraction but it is good to see progress and I wanted to get things moving forward,” Frye said. “We have great respect for coach Baughman, overwhelming respect, and love the field but our focus is on the kids every day. Wherever we play we play. I am just concerned about our team.”
The Roughriders, who won the Western Buckeye League outright last year and shared it in 2016, faces replacing six players on offense and six players on defense. While the Riders return a host of talent, Frey said there is plenty of work to be done if they are going to go for a third straight league title.
“I think we have gotten use to having some success which is a positive thing even though sometimes when you have success you have to make sure you don’t become complacent with that success so we are hoping are kids continue to work and understand that we need to improve to keep this going.,” said Frye who’s team made a deep run in the playoffs before bowing out in the regional quarterfinals to Shelby, 47-7.
Approximately 90 players have come out which helps Frye in terms of depth, however, he also knows it is a major step to play at the varsity level and a number of the players will be thrust into the spotlight in order to fill the positions vacated by graduating seniors.
“The biggest thing is finding depth and filling the line positions right now,” Frye said. “Even though we have 90 players, the junior and senior classes aren’t large number wise so it is the younger kids where all the numbers are at.”
Frye admits that while he is not keen on starting sophomores but that possibility could arise and several are competing for some playing time.
Sean Perry, a third-team all-state running back, spearheads the vaunted Roughrider wing-T offense. Perry, averaging seven yards a carry, finished the regular season with more than 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns.
Also looking to get touches in the backfield will be Ty Schlosser and Braeden Dunlap.
Coming back on the line are center Mitch Seewer and guard Ian Young. As a team, the Riders were tops in the WBL in rushing (averaging 323 yards).
“Keeping our skilled players healthy and filling out the line are key for us,” Frye said.
Like the offense, the defense needs to plug some holes up front. The lone returner is junior Blake Kanorr.
“As we talk about the trenches, three of those four kids for us up front are going to be new,” Frye said. “Obviously when you run the 4-3 defense that is important. We had a good off season in the weight room so hopefully some of those kids will step up so the focus is rebuilding that d-line.”
Back for the defense is Perry, who was a standout in the defensive backfield, along with Ty Howell. One area that appears to be the strongest is at the linebacker position. Returners Keegan Sawmiller, Christian Triplett and Schlosser are back for a defense that was ranked No. 1 in the league overall. The Riders were tops against the run and ninth against the pass.
Having garnered the title the past two season has put a huge target on the Roughriders’ back and Frye understands that every team in the WBL will be looking to bump off St. Marys.But as the St. Marys head coach added that he would rather be in the position of being the one to beat.
“We don’t talk so much about winning the league championship but we mainly focus on trying to be the best that we can that particular day and hopes that continue,” Frye said. “Winning isn’t going to happen by accident and we are going to have to continue to work and hopefully stay health.”
Frye added that he expects the WBL to be that much more competitive this year and expects Ottawa-Glandorf to bounce back and other teams to step up.