Who are some of the frontrunners to make a run at state?
Minus the usual suspects in the Midwest Athletic Conference, there are a host of teams in the area that could be prime for a major run in the postseason. Lima Central Catholic, St. Marys and Wapakoneta all made deep runs last year. All three teams must fill some holes but could return to the playoffs this year and make a serious run at state.
Which new quarterback will emerge this season?
A number of teams this year are dealing with the replacement of some quality signal-callers. In the Western Buckeye League alone, Celina, Kenton, St. Marys, Van Wert and Wapakoneta are breaking in new quarterbacks, as well as Crestview, Pandora-Gilboa and Perry. It will be interesting to see which quarterback develops the quickest and establishes himself early in the season.
Who is favored in the WBL?
St. Marys has had a share or won three-straight titles and shared the honor with Wapakoneta last year. It seems all the major players in the WBL have holes that need to be filled, and the team whose players develop the quickest could garner the early advantage. Wapakoneta, St. Marys and Kenton are both replacing key skilled spots but also have key personnel back that could help mask the early woes. Van Wert has talent back but is also replacing some major personnel, and Celina has its offensive and defensive lines intact but will need skill players to develop. Bath, Elida, Ottawa-Glandorf and Shawnee will play a role in how the WBL shapes up.
How is the NWC shaping up?
A trio of teams, Columbus Grove, Crestview and Spencerville, shared the league title. Expect the same high level of competition in the NWC this year. Columbus Grove, Crestview and Spencerville all have significant holes to fill, with all three teams looking to reload and not rebuild. Allen East and Bluffton are darkhorses in the race, as both are looking to improve on last year’s success. Paulding and Ada are hoping to make some waves this year as well.
What can we expect from the Northwest Central Conference?
With numbers down at Sidney Lehman and Elgin losing a lot of talent to graduation, the field is wide open for other teams to make a mark in league play. Perry has a number of holes but has several talented players returning, and Waynesfield-Goshen continues to improve under the guidance of Shane Wireman. Hardin Northern surprised some teams last year and hopes to do the same this year.
How important is the early season?
A number of key games face teams in the various leagues this season. In the WBL, St. Marys and Wapakoneta will square off in week 2, and the Roughriders play three straight away games to kick off the season. Kenton will battle Celina in week 3 and Van Wert must play Wapakoneta in week four followed by St. Marys in week five. In the NWC, Columbus Grove will take on rival Pandora-Gilboa in week one and then follow it up with a contest against Leipsic. Spencerville takes on Lima Central Catholic in week 3.
Can Lima Senior reverse its fortune?
Lima Senior produced a 2-8 record last year with a young squad, and Spartan head coach Andre Griffin is hoping a new quarterback with a solid offensive line and a defense anchored by Penn State commit Brandon Taylor can turn the tide for Lima Senior this season. The Spartans play in the always competitive Three Rivers Athletic Conference, which means they will be tested every week.
Can new coaches at different stops turn their teams around?
Bath and Delphos Jefferson have new coaches. Bath has its third coach in three years, and Jefferson has its fourth in four years. Bath’s Ryan Reindel inherits a team that went winless last season, but with 15 returners he hopes to record some victories this year. The same holds true for Ben Rahrig at Jefferson. The Wildcats got one win last year, and Rahrig will need to develop some young talent if he is going to be competitive in the NWC.