DELPHOS – One might think Delphos St. John’s players would be dragging a bit coming off a 1-9 season.
After all, these are the Blue Jays we’re talking about, the owners of six state football championships and 18 trips to the playoffs.
But life in 2020 is much different.
This team was excited in camp to be out on the practice field.
“With the situation we’re in right now, a lot of these guys lost their spring sports,” St. John’s 22-year coach Todd Schulte said. “We’re out practicing football right now and not taking it for granted. They’re very competitive.
“We’ll work hard and enjoy what we have. We’ll enjoy the moment. There’s been a renewed energy in the offseason. … We’ll enjoy it while we have it.’’
Among players lost to graduation are Midwest Athletic Conference honorable mention players running back/linebacker Devin Lindeman, quarterback Brady Parrish, wide receiver/defensive back Brady Grothaus and running back/linebacker Jordan Brown.
The Blue Jays return six starters on offense and five on defense.
With only 32 players on the roster, almost everyone will be going both ways.
There’s room for improvement on both sides of the ball, as the Blue Jays scored 13 points-per-game (ninth in the MAC) and gave up 37 (10th in the MAC).
The graduated Parrish threw for 491 yards last year, but went down with an injury in Week 5.
After Week 5, quarterback was split between Grothaus and Brady Kerner.
This year Kerner and Isaac Fairchild, a receiver last year, will battle it out in camp for the quarterback job.
Schulte is hoping one clearly wins the job. The one who doesn’t play quarterback will play other spots.
“Kerner and Fairlchild are working in and we hope one takes control,” Schulte said. “They are pretty close. Isaac is more athletic. Brady has a good head for the game.’’
As for the offense, Schulte said, “We’re not big and we want to put them in space the best we can and use their athletic ability. We’re not three yards and a cloud of dust.’’
Two starters return on the offensive line in Nate Buettner and guard Dillon Cross.
Nathan Mosier, who worked in quite a bit up front last year, will also start.
With Lindeman and Brown gone, running back will be by committee with Fairchild, if he’s not the quarterback, Chase Martin and senior Troy Smith.
The receiving corps will have the likes of veterans Landon Elwer and Gavin Fittro.
Braysen Schulte is back at wide receiver after working hard to recover recover from a torn ACL and MCL knee injury in Week 1.
Defensively, Buettner returns at a tackle spot and Martin is back at end. Mosier saw action on the line and will play there again.
Three veterans will handle the secondary, Fittro, Elwer and Fairchild. Schulte will also play cornerback.
The linebacking unit will have plenty of new faces including Smith, Camden Schafer, Clay Paddubny, Blake Ricker and Logan Dickman.
St. John’s moved from its traditional 4-3 defense to a 4-2-5 last year. The Blue goes will return to the 4-2-5 this year.
“Last year there was a lot of feeling out with the new defense,” Schulte said. “This year they’re more ready to go.’’
The Blue Jays haven’t won the state championship in 10 years
(2010). Their last playoff appearance came in 2017.
But Schulte is a lot more focused on the day-to-day grind.
“The biggest thing is to do the little things in practice,” Schulte said. “We’ve talked technique and the attitude has been good.’’