ST. MARYS — With quarterback questions and some unfortunate bounces and injuries for St. Marys, the Roughriders got off to a 1-2 start last season and although they righted the ship to reel off seven straight wins to make the playoffs it cost them a shot at winning a fourth straight Western Buckeye League championship.
Coming into this year, head coach Doug Frye, even though he has a new quarterback again, is ready to get off to a fast start and regain the WBL title and beyond.
“Last year we lost an overtime game and a field goal game where we missed a field goal and those could have gone either way but that is last year and as we move on to this year it is a completely new year.”
And while this year brings its own number of uncertainties with the coronovirus, Frye is certain his team can compete this year. The Roughriders have 10 returning starters.
That is not to say there aren’t plenty of holes to fill after losing top notch players to graduation,
And even though the Roughriders will have a new quarterback there is no issue who will be behind center at the start of the season.
Frye explains that last year he went into the regular season he had players who could start at quarterback and he has never dealt with that situation in his coaching career and that coupled with some early injuries led to some offensive inconsistencies in the two losses.
Gavin Reineke has been tabbed as the opening game starter. The junior signal caller did come to throw the winning touchdown in the opening game against Sidney last year and started against Wapakoneta before being lifted so he comes in with some playing experience. He also saw time at the split end position.
“He is a kid that has been out there on Friday nights,” Frye said. “Dylan Trogdlon started at quarterback the opening game and then we moved him some where else and he would be our back up. We do have two kids that do have experience so that is a good thing.”
Kyle Kogge, who served as the junior varsity quarterback, is also available if needed.
Even though the quarterback is an essential aspect of all offenses, the Roughriders don’t move the ball with their highly effective running attack without the guys up front doing their jobs.
Senior left tackle Bryan Ward, a three-year starter, will anchor the line after having an impressive junior year and being tabbed an All-WBL performer, first-team All-Northwest District and a special mention All-Ohio selection.
Morgan Seeward, who saw action last season, will occupy the right tackle slot.
Junior Stash Patterson returns at the left guard position and Chase Jacobs takes over the chores at the center spot.
Vying for time at the guard spot are Logan Knous, Ryan Davis, Corey Sullivan and Dalton Walter who all saw some limited time last year.
Devin Shannon, originally a tight end, played at the tackle spot last year, but will return back to the tight end position.
Frye said that there might not be a lot of full time starters on the line but there are players with experience and talent.
“I’ve been pleased with the work ethic of our kids,” Frye said. “We are a running football team and we build our pride in the trenches. We lost that spring time in the weight room. I feel we have made up some of that time.”
Even though the ‘Riders were second overall in team rushing last year, St. Marys did not have a single runner in the top 10 in rushing and Frye said that might happen again this year.
“We try to pride ourselves on sharing the ball a lot but the problem last year was we lost a number of kids to injuries,” Frye said. “We lost Ty Schlosser, who was a three-year starter at fullback, so it was one of those years where we had to deal with a number of injuries throughout the season.”
Frye adds that you might see up to seven or eight running backs rotate in and out of the line up.
While the offense is taking shape, Frye said that his concerns come on the defensive side and added that without scrimmages or summer practices he feels they are behind in terms of establishing themselves.
“I think it is most difficult to evaluate your defense,” Frye said. “I think the toughest place to coach in football today is being a defensive coordinator because there is so much variety in the offensive schemes.”
“We pretty muc know our identity offensively so that does add some challenges on the offensive side but our main challenges are on the defense.”
Frye adds that without the summer seven on seven competitions that the defense has missed out on four seven on seven events in addition to no scrimmages.
“What we we’ve been doing is trying to film a little more in practice and trying to keep a watchful eye to make the changes that are necessary so I think it’s going to be tough,” Frye said. “I think what you are going to see with all teams a little more altering island adaptations in games three or four than you would have seen in the season because that would correlate to the opening week.”
The Roughriders must replace three first-team All WBL performers on the defensive side of the ball.
“Defensively what you see that jumps out for us is our two defensive tackles (Hunter Fultz and Trace Marby) Frye said.
Senior Brandon Paul returns in the linebacking corps and two year letterwinner Hunter Fraley will also play linebacker.
Three defensive backs return for the Riders in Tanner Howe, Ethan Wenning and Trogdlon that should help with the Riders making adjustments in the early stages of the season.
“We have some people back in each area we just have to develop the other kids we have,” Frye said.
Like last year, Frye knows that the early part of the season will go a long way in deciding the WBL. St. Marys opens with Bath, then plays rival Wapakoneta in the second game of the season, followed by games against Ottawa-Glandorf
“Expectations are always high here at St. Marys,” Frye said. “I think that comes with the territory. I really do believe, and I know this is coach speak, but this is fully to the linethe WBL returns a lot more players and if you look at quarterbacks there is a lot of quarterbacks returning in the league and in this day and age and that is what jumps out at me.
“That and itself there is going to be a lot of good offensive teams and they make a little longer to mature because of the lack of seven on sevens but I believe the key is how quickly you develop your defense.”