BATH TOWNSHIP – Bath leaped off the mat last year.
After hitting bottom at 0-10 in 2018, Bath came back with a 3-7 season (3-6 Western Buckeye League) behind first-year head coach Ryan Reindel.
Reindel, a former Bath wide receiver, is hoping he can use last year as a springboard.
“Last year we kind of started turning the ship and we wanted to make it a point to compete each game and with the top teams in the WBL,” Reindel said. “Coming off a Week 10 win over Shawnee was a huge boost for our offseason. We’re starting to see the benefits of the hard
work, buying in and competing each day. We rode that wave into the offseason. And when you start to get that success, they want to be a part of it.’’
In all, 10 starters return on offense and 10 more are back on defense.
Senior Dallin McDermott was moved from wide receiver to quarterback in Week 3 and threw for 1,077 yards and seven TDs.
He took over for Lex Boedicker, who moved to wide receiver and linebacker.
“We saw from his (McDermott’s) first game to the end of the year his growth and how the game started to slow down and how he processed the defense,” Reindel said. “And in the offseason, we saw his leadership. … He’s grown in his knowledge of the offense.
“It also moved Lex (Boedicker) to both sides of the ball.’’
McDermott had been a wide receiver and junior varsity quarterback prior to Week 3.
Parlapiano returns as the team’s leading rusher, as he ran 100 times for 455 yards. He also had 29 receptions for 200 yards. He had three TDs.
“We’re looking to feature him (Parlapiano) more,” Reindel said. “He split with time with Trey Johnson last year and we’re looking to get him more touches and get him close to 1,000 yards.’’
Johnson suffered a torn ACL in Week 9 last year. He’s healthy and ready to go, but the 5-foot-10, 220-pounder will be used primarily as a short-yardage back, along with playing linebacker.
Three starters return on an offensive line which will average 250 pounds.
Those line returnees are Kanyon Poling, who moves from center to guard, Collin Hoehn and tackle Baustin Cheney.
Lucas Prichard moves from tight end to offensive tackle.
Wide receiver is a veteran position and returns leading receiver Blaine Albright, who had 24 catches for 309 yards and two TDs.
Also back at receiver are Boedicker and Ian Armentrout.
With the experience, Bath hopes to improve on its scoring of 12.8 points-per-game, which was ninth in the WBL.
The rushing game ranked ninth in the league (107 yards-per-game), while the passing game was fifth (129 yards-per-game).
Besides the added year of experience, Reindel added, “Our strength has gotten a lot better.’’
Only one starter is gone from a defense, which ranked in the middle of the pack in many WBL categories.
All four defensive linemen are back in tackles Poling and Hoehn and ends R.J. Cortez and Prichard.
Cortez, a junior, had 78 tackles and five sacks from his end spot last season.
Johnson anchors the defense from his middle linebacker spot. He led the team in tackles and was named second team all-WBL.
“I like his (Johnson’s) physicality and I like his leadership,” Reindel said. “He’s the first guy in, last guy out kind of guy. … He’s back (from the ACL surgery) and looking good.’’
Also returning at linebacker around Johnson are Boedicker and Parlapiano, who led the WBL in fumble recoveries with four.
The secondary is made up of veterans cornerback Wyatt Maley, safety Austin Williams and safety Armentrout.
Not only does Bath return 20 starters, six juniors are three-year starters. Four seniors are three-year starters.
Reindel hopes that can lift the team to its first winning record since the Wildcats went 7-3 in 2016.
Bath’s last trip to the playoffs came in 2003.
“We have to be very consistent at a high level,” Reindel said. “We had several close games and came up on the wrong end because we didn’t play consistent for four quarters.’’
Reindel added that being physical will be a key ingredient, as well.
“We have to have the physicality and toughness to run the grind of the WBL,” he said. “You have to control the trenches. And you have to have some athleticism to hang with the quick, athletic teams.’’