CELINA — Many coaches will tell you that their teams will go as far as their front lines will take them.
With all five starters back on their offensive line and five on the defensive line, head coach Brennen Bader should be well-armed for the 2019 campaign.
The Bulldogs ended up 5-5 in 2018 after a 7-3 finish in 2017.
“We have all five starters back up front, so that will be one of our biggest strengths,” Bader said. “We have to replace a lot of our skill-position players, so we will be relying on a lot of young and inexperienced players in our starting 11.”
Back up front on offense are all-Western Buckeye League honorable mention performers in seniors Cayden Thomson (5-10, 230) at center and offensive tackle Cole Robbins, along with senior center Aaron Cole, junior guard Devin Chilcoat and junior tackle Ridge Walley.
Letterwinners expected to step into the lineup are quarterback Cooper Jones (6-3, 200, junior), running backs Jaxson Silliman (6-1, 185, junior) and Jaden King (5-9, 150, sophomore) and receivers Brandon Staugler (5-11, 150, junior), Aric Gillmore (6-2, 160, senior) and King.
“We’re also strong on the defensive line. Again, we will have to have younger and inexperienced players step in in the secondary and at linebacker,” Bader said. “These guys are great teammates and we have a great overall work ethic with great potential. I am anxious to see what we do.”
Leading the way defensively up front are veterans such as tackles Cory Fortkamp (senior) and senior Gevan Nash (5-11, 270) and ends Drake Langenkamp (6-5, 240, senior), Denny Huber (junior) and junior Connor Nuding (6-1, 205).
Potential fill-ins include Silliman, senior Ethan Dirksen (5-10, 200) and sophomores Karsen Black (5-8, 160) and Grant Laux (5-9, 180) at linebacker and secondary players such as Staugler, Gillmore, Jones, Houts, Silliman and King.
“We want to embrace team unity and culture daily. We want to embrace the process and get better every day, especially in two-a-days,” Bader said. “We want to contend for the WBL title and make the Division II playoffs.”