ELIDA – Last football season, Elida’s senior-laden team scored nearly 39 points per game. The Bulldogs went 8-3 overall (7-2 in the Western Buckeye League) and made it to the playoffs, before bowing out to Trotwood Madison in the first round.
Leading the way for the high-powered Elida offense in 2017 were three seniors. Quarterback Isaac McAdams threw for 2,514 yards and 27 touchdowns. McAdams also rushed for another 1,145 yards and 12 TDs. Cole Harmon was McAdams’ favorite target, as Harmon hauled in 52 passes for 778 yards and eight TDs. Daniel Unruh rushed for 640 yards
and eight TDs; and also recorded another 611 yards and five scores through the air.
Those big threats for the Bulldogs are now gone.
McAdams will be playing football this fall at Concordia University Ann Arbor. Harmon will be playing football at the University of Saint Francis this fall. Unruh will be playing basketball at Ohio Northern University.
“We lost a lot of experience,” Elida coach Bill Speller said. “The guys who are taking over those positions that we lost from last year, are very athletic. So, at this point, it’s getting the experience caught up with the athleticism. When we do that, we’ll be pretty good. It’s hard to tell just yet. When we get that experience going and they get comfortable on what they’re doing, we should be Ok.”
Speller will attempt to reconstruct a hurry-up spread offense that lost eight starters from a year ago.
Filling the vacant quarterback spot will be freshman Evan Unruh (5-foot- 11, 150).
“Evan Unruh is going to take over at quarterback,” Speller said. “He’s Daniel’s little brother. He’s awfully athletic. He can absolutely fly. But it’s still a big transition for him. We have to get the experience caught up with the athleticism. He’s got the athletic part. But now we are asking him to do things he didn’t do in middle school. He didn’t have to
read coverages and read what the linebackers are doing, before he runs a play. It’s a little more complex, but he’s working really hard.”
Speller is excited about the skill players that will surround the freshman signal-caller.
“(The) wide receivers are probably our strongest group right now,” Speller said. “Devon Barnett (Jr., 6-0, 175), KeShawn Spivey (Jr., 5-10, 170), Arzaiah Little (Sr., 6-0, 170) and Cam Fetter (Sr., 5-8, 160) are our wide receivers. Those guys can fly. We’re excited about their athleticism. That’s where we feel our strength is right now.
“At running back, Marcel Poe (Jr., 5-9, 195) is starting there right now. Billy Jahnz (Sr., 5-9, 160) is getting some reps. Spivey is getting some
reps as well. They’re really fast and athletic. It’s just a matter of who wants to take it right now.”
Spivey was a state-qualifier in the 110-meter hurdles this past track season.
On the offensive line, the Bulldogs return just one starter. Jordan Speller (Jr., 6-5, 300) – Coach Speller’s son – who will anchor the line. More than likely, Speller will play center. However, Coach Speller might move him around, if needed.
“Chemistry is a big thing with the offensive line,” Coach Speller said. “So, we’re trying to find that right chemistry. With Jordan being the only returner coming back, we’re leaning on his experience quite a bit, with talking guys through plays. He’s done a great job.
“Jordan had a great offseason and a great summer. He’s gotten a lot thicker and a lot stronger. We’re going to expect him to go both ways this year.” Others battling for a starting spot on the O-line include Larry Slygh (Sr., 5-9, 205), Austin Kirk (Jr., 5-9, 205), Dylan Harmon (So., 6-0, 260), D.J. Schultheis (Jr., 6-0, 240) and Mason Chiles (Jr., 5-10, 190).
“We’re definitely big on the line,” Jordan Speller said. “We hit the weights hard during the summer. We always focus on getting stronger. We got really bigger during the summer.”
Senior Noah Adcock, the “Kicking Specialist of the Year” in the WBL last season, returns for the Bulldogs.
On defense, Elida returns seven starters from a unit that was fifth in the WBL in total team defense (348 yards per game) in 2017.
“Defensively, we’re fairly experienced,” Speller said. “We have seven guys back on defense. So, we’re making a change from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense. Andy Etzkorn is taking over as the defensive coordinator. We’ll try to make things a little simpler over there. So far, it’s coming along pretty well.”