Pandora-Gilboa looks to continue success


By Jose Nogueras - jnogueras@aimmediamidwest.com



Pandora-Gilboa’s Bryce Basinger (6) will be one of the featured receivers in the Rockets’ offense and is expected to be a force on defense.

Pandora-Gilboa’s Bryce Basinger (6) will be one of the featured receivers in the Rockets’ offense and is expected to be a force on defense.


Levi A. Morman | The Lima News

PANDORA-GILBOA

Coach: Matt Hershey

Years at school, record: 2 (21-4)

Division: VII

Returning Lettermen: Bryce Basinger (WR/DB), Walker Macke ((WR/DB), Silas Schmenk (QB,DB), Austin Miller (WR/DB), Blake Steiner (WR/DB), Sam Burkholder (RB/LB), Isaac Stall (OL/LB), Gavin Biery (OL/DL), Tommy Hovest (OL/DL), Dylan Bryan (OL/DL)

Season Outlook: “We will have to grow up in a hurry,” Hershey said. “We have some new faces that we will rely on to help us win games. Guys who were role players last year will have to learn to carry the load. As with most small schools, being able to stay healthy is as important as ever. If we can play to our potential we should be very competitive in every game we play.”

PANDORA-GILBOA SCHEDULE

Aug. 30 `Columbus Grove `7 p.m.

Sept. 6 `at Bluffton `7 p.m.

Sept. 13 `Van Buren `7 p.m.

Sept. 20 `Leipsic `7 p.m.

Sept. 27 `at McComb `7 p.m.

Oct. 4 Liberty-Benton `7 p.m.

Oct. 11 Vanlue `7 p.m.

Oct. 18 `at Arlington `7 p.m.

Oct. 25 `at Crestline `7 p.m.

Nov. 1 `at Arcadia `7 p.m.

PANDORA – With the graduation of a number of talented players, many expect Pandora-Gilboa to take a step back after two highly successful seasons that saw the Rockets go 21-4 with two postseason appearances and a Blanchard Valley Conference title in 2018.

And Rocket head coach Matt Hershey doesn’t mind if opponents think this. In fact, he revels in the underdog role.

“We used the fact that other teams have beaten up on us and tried to use the revenge factor, the underdog role, and I think we are still in the underdog role,” Hershey said. “I don’t think anybody expects us to be contender this year. We are happy with that. If people want to keep doubting us, that is fine.”

Whether Hershey can match the same high level of competitiveness the Rockets will be determined by those players getting their chance to shine.

Gone is all-Northwest District quarterback Jared Breese, along with sure-handed receivers Riley Larcom and Travis Maag, running back Payton Traxler and all-league linemen, Gage Hovest and Zeb George.

“There is no secret we lost a ton of production as far as all-state quarterback, receivers that have set school records,” Hershey said. “We lost quality players, but the good news is return everyone else.”

Ten returners are back with a number of them seeing plenty of playing time during the Rockets’ success the past two seasons. The key for the Rockets is to have the veteran players gel with the newcomers to hopefully continue the winning ways at Pandora-Gilboa.

“Success breeds success, and it makes them work harder,” Hershey said. “It’s Isaac Stall and Walter Macke’s team now, and hopefully those guys will step up and want their names to be called to carry on the torch.”

Hershey added that no spot is assured, and he wants his players to remain hungry and competitive for playing time.

On the offense, the first order of business is to find a signal-caller, and replacing Breese will not be easy. Two candidates have emerged as the successor. Austin Miller, a senior who played receiver last year, and Silas Schmenk, are splitting reps in the preseason.

“Both have been backups to Jared in the last couple of years, and we are just trying to figure out who is going be successful,” Hershey said. “They are two different types of quarterbacks. One is more of a polished passer, and one is more of a polished runner, so we are trying to figure out who can fill out the other half of their game that gives us a better chance to win.”

Hershey added that they would like to remain a balanced offense.

“Yardage-wise, I think the past two years we have been as balanced as you can get so having a quarterback with the ability to run definitely helps as far as the game planning goes because we can add another blocker in there,” he said. “But if we can be efficient passing the ball and not get our quarterback taking so many shots, that will play in the decision too.”

With Breese as the quarterback the past two years, the coaching staff focused on other areas of need, but that will not be the case this year as Hershey will be taking a closer look on who will be the Rockets’ field general.

Whomever gets the starting nod, the quarterback will have some good weapons to throw to and in the backfield. Yes, Larcom and Maag are gone, but back are Bryce Basinger, who had 31 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns, along with Blake Steiner and Macke. Basinger was a third-team all-BVC selection at receiver.

“Bryce went to state in track in four different events so we are excited about his explosive abilities,” Hershey said. “We are going to have to find ways to get him the ball with as many touches as possible and other teams are going to stop him they are going to have to double team him and that opens the windows for other guys.”

Taking over the running back chores will be Sam Burkholder, a junior, who saw action after Traxler went down with an injury at the end of the season. In his brief stint starting, Burkholder amassed 270 yards and five touchdowns.

“He is a very good option for us and a state qualifier in track,” Hershey said. “He is a good runner. He is a hard runner so we are going to rely on him to move that pile and keep the clock moving for us. He started in the playoffs for us last year and so he has got some experience.”

Up front on the offensive line, Pandora-Gilboa returns a trio of starters in Isaac Stall, Tommy Hovest and Dylan Bryan.

“We are very confident we have a good core group,” Hershey said. “These guys have seen a lot of stuff and been in big games and won big games for us. Starting with three is a great problem to have.”

Junior Trevor Gerten has been looking good in the offseason and preseason and is expected to garner a starting spot.

Hershey added that because of the small size and numbers out, building up depth at all positions is imperative.

Defensively, most of those names that you heard on offense, will be going on defense. Hershey said they are switching up the defense and going to a 3-4 formation to take advantage of the team’s speed.

“We don’t have a great amount of size,” Hershey said. “We have some athletic, skilled type players to use their strengths to the best of their abilities.”

Bryan and junior Gavin Biery are back on the defensive line.

Stahl returns as the middle linebacker and put up big numbers for the Rockets as he produced 80 tackles and four sacks. Burkholder and Gerten will handle two of the linebacker spots, and Hershey has moved Blake Steiner to linebacker after spending last season as a safety.

The defensive backfield returns all four players. Macke and Baysinger are going to play cornerbacks. Baysinger, a first-team, all-BVC selection on defense, had 22 tackles and one interception last year and Macke recorded three interceptions in 2018.

Schmenk and Miller, who is finally healthy, will be playing the safety spots.

“Our lack of size is going to be evident when we are out there,” Hershey said. “We don’t have the big horses other schools do. Physicality is our biggest thing. When we are successful we have been the more physical team. When we struggle is when we play those run teams and they run it right at us and that is where we fall down so just being physical and play smart, error-free football will help us.”

Going into the season, Hershey said there is that element of the unknown but he is confident his players are ready to continue the winning ways the Rockets have forged.

“We expect to be very competitive,” Hershey said. “Now at the end of the season what is our record I don’t know. But if we are going to be successful the ball is going to have to bounce our way and we are going to have to stay healthy. With 36 kids on the roster we can’t afford any big injuries, but there is nothing on our schedule that should scare us.”

Pandora-Gilboa’s Bryce Basinger (6) will be one of the featured receivers in the Rockets’ offense and is expected to be a force on defense.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/08/web1_Pandora-Gilboa-vs-McComb-Football-0704.jpgPandora-Gilboa’s Bryce Basinger (6) will be one of the featured receivers in the Rockets’ offense and is expected to be a force on defense. Levi A. Morman | The Lima News

By Jose Nogueras

jnogueras@aimmediamidwest.com

PANDORA-GILBOA

Coach: Matt Hershey

Years at school, record: 2 (21-4)

Division: VII

Returning Lettermen: Bryce Basinger (WR/DB), Walker Macke ((WR/DB), Silas Schmenk (QB,DB), Austin Miller (WR/DB), Blake Steiner (WR/DB), Sam Burkholder (RB/LB), Isaac Stall (OL/LB), Gavin Biery (OL/DL), Tommy Hovest (OL/DL), Dylan Bryan (OL/DL)

Season Outlook: “We will have to grow up in a hurry,” Hershey said. “We have some new faces that we will rely on to help us win games. Guys who were role players last year will have to learn to carry the load. As with most small schools, being able to stay healthy is as important as ever. If we can play to our potential we should be very competitive in every game we play.”

PANDORA-GILBOA SCHEDULE

Aug. 30 `Columbus Grove `7 p.m.

Sept. 6 `at Bluffton `7 p.m.

Sept. 13 `Van Buren `7 p.m.

Sept. 20 `Leipsic `7 p.m.

Sept. 27 `at McComb `7 p.m.

Oct. 4 Liberty-Benton `7 p.m.

Oct. 11 Vanlue `7 p.m.

Oct. 18 `at Arlington `7 p.m.

Oct. 25 `at Crestline `7 p.m.

Nov. 1 `at Arcadia `7 p.m.

Post navigation