OTTAWA — It has been three years since Ottawa-Glandorf has been to the playoffs, which by the Titans’ standards probably qualifies as a drought.
Before the 2017 season, they had been a playoff team 13 times in 20 seasons before a 3-7 record in 2017 and a 5-5 campaign last season.
With returning starters at 12 positions, Ottawa-Glandorf hopes to be a contender in the Western Buckeye League again and see where that might lead.
Heading into Ken Schriner’s 24th year as O-G’s head coach, the Titans have enough strengths to be optimistic and enough questions that nothing is guaranteed.
The returning starters on offense are running back Clay Recker, offensive linemen Logan Schmitz and Aaron Rieman, wide receivers Jarrod Beach and Will Kaufman and quarterback Jacob Balbaugh. On defense, the returning starters are Eric Heebsh, Recker, Beach and Kuhlman at defensive back, Schmitz at defensive lineman and Kaufman at linebacker.
Beach was second-team All-Western Buckeye League last season, and Recker, Schmitz and Kaufman were honorable mention All-WBL.
A series of quarterback injuries the last two seasons have disrupted the Titans’ plans. They also have given this year’s starter, Balbaugh, some experience under pressure as the No. 1 quarterback after he had to step in during the season as a freshman and then again as a sophomore last year.
Schriner said, “Defensively, I like our speed. I just don’t know if we have the size and the strength to battle against teams that come straight at us. I like our aggressiveness.
“I think offensively we’re doing some good things. We had a nice summer passing the ball. We did some nice things in 7 on 7s. But it’s up front where it starts. We’re kind of unproven (on the offensive line). We’ve got two returning starters on the offensive line,” he said.
O-G won four of its last five games last season after going 1-4 the first half of the season. The Titans relied heavily on their running game all of last season but especially so in those final five games after quarterback Jeremy Leopold was lost to an injury for the second season in a row.
Schriner said the goal offensively is to divide the play calls 50-50 between running the ball and throwing it. Last season, those numbers got out of balance, and the Titans averaged only 96 yards a game passing.
“I think we can be better (at passing the ball),” Schriner said. “Balbaugh was thrown into the fire as a freshman because of injuries. Last year he wasn’t our starter coming in and probably didn’t get the reps, which is probably as much of a reason as anything why we didn’t throw a whole lot,” the O-G coach said.
Along with Balbaugh being the quarterback from Day One, Schriner sees improved play by the wide receivers as another reason the passing game should improve.
“Jarrod Beach has great vision; he finds holes in a zone in a way that I don’t know if I’ve seen before. Brennen Blevins is going to be a nice addition to what we do. He’s pretty fast, he runs great routes. Caleb Kuhlman is doing a nice job as a receiver.
“Clay Recker is going to be the guy out of the backfield. He has nice speed and we’re hoping he can get outside on the edge. We feel we can get him the ball in a number of different areas and we feel like he can be a weapon for us. But to me it all boils down to what happens up front. Can we hold the line in protection and can we create holes in the run game?” Schriner said.