A playoff team last year, Triway shifts out of the brutal Region 13
pool and into Region 14, which is full of uncertainty heading into this
fall as many of last year’s top teams are trying to replace a multitude
of talent…That’s the good news.
Wooster Triway (8-3)
* Players To Watch – WR-QB-RB/S Cole Drake (6-0, 170, Sr.); TB-WR/S Sawyer Polen (5-10, 165, Jr.); WR-TE/LB Brandon Butcher (6-0, 195, Sr.); OT-DE Eric Myers (6-2, 218, Jr.); WR-DB Trevor Hankins (5-9, 170, Sr.); QB Derek Carmichael, 5-10, 160, Jr.); WR-CB Zach Houmard (5-10, 165, Sr.).
* Outlook – A playoff team last year, Triway shifts out of the brutal Region 13 pool and into Region 14, which is full of uncertainty heading into this fall as many of last year’s top teams are trying to replace a multitude of talent.
That’s the good news.
On the reason-for-concern side is that the Titans themselves are dealing with changeover, most notably at the top as head coach Tony Lee is taking over for the departed Doug Haas, who guided a complete turnaround last season after Triway posted a 3-7 record in 2007.
Another challenge will be to find a new battering ram for the offense after graduating 2,000-yard running back Ben Cline. And if that isn’t enough, Triway faces possibly the most land-mine laden schedule in Division IV.
Still, the Titans should be fun to watch this season and have the look of a contender in Region 14 as Lee will try to overcome the week-by-week grind with versatility and athleticism.
The most exciting performer for Triway will be Drake, who isn’t physically imposing but certainly is gifted as he can change a game from several different points on the field. Not only does he play some quarterback for Triway, he also moves around to running back and receiver and is a standout in the defensive backfield. He played primarily under center last season but could move around liberally in ’09.
Along with possessing all the football prowess, Drake is also an accomplished wrestler who qualified for the state tournament. In fact, he may be too good an athlete to play only at QB, especially if Carmichael proves worthy of the job.
Lee, who was last on the Triway staff in 2004 as the Titans’ offensive coordinator, already has fans excited for all the offensive ingenuity he plans to showcase this fall and the athletes he has inherited. He believes in attacking defenses on the perimeter as well as up the gut and there appears to be ideal personnel in place to do so.
“Doug Hass ran a version of the spread – that’s right up my alley,” Lee said. “We’ll probably pass more than we run it and we’re going to try to spread it around a little bit.”
Triway earned the No. 6 seed of the Region 13 playoffs last season. However, after being co-champs of the Pac-7, the Titans were felled in the first round of the postseason in a 41-7 loss to Perry at Perry Alumni Stadium.
Still, the Titans take momentum into the season, especially considering they put up 45 or more points in four of their last five regular-season games. Many of the same rabbits are back to run through and around defenses.
“We’ve got some really good skilled athletes coming back,” Lee said. “We only return one lineman starter from last year. We’ve got kids with potential, we just have to work them. That’s the key to the season, how our unproven players develop, especially up front.”
Carmichael could be another X-factor. A shifty runner with a developing arm, Carmichael could become the engine to the offense if he can learn to run the spread the way Lee envisions.
Lee won’t be afforded many teaching moments, however, once the season starts as Triway’s schedule is littered with challenges, including games right out of the chute with Millersburg West Holmes and Orrville. The Titans’ first two league games are against Akron Manchester and Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, who won seven and nine games last season, respectively.
Three of the first four games are away and the regular season concludes with a home finale with Massillon Tuslaw, a contender in Region 13, and at trip to Canton Timken, a Division II school.
“It’s a grinder, so a fast start would put us in good situation,” Lee said. “Orrville is loaded and we play two of our backdoor rivals. It’s an old cliché, but we’ll play them one at a time and see what happens.”
It would follow that an eight- or even seven-win regular season should be enough to put Triway back into the postseason. However, now the resume will be to make a case in Region 14, which could be the most unpredictable region in D-IV.
“I coached back in 1993 when I first came here and we were in Northwest Ohio and played Wauseon in the regional championships, so we’re sort of going back that way,” said Lee, who is originally from Fostoria. “We hope to be in the top four, but if not you’re going to be doing some serious traveling. But if you make the playoffs, you’ve got to be happy with that.”
Aug. 28 at Millersburg West Holmes
Sept. 4 Orrville
Sept. 11 at Apple Creek Waynedale
Sept. 18 at Akron Manchester
Sept. 25 Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy
Oct. 2 Navarre Fairless
Oct. 9 Gnadenhutten Indian Valley
Oct. 16 at Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley
Oct. 23 Massillon Tuslaw
Oct. 30 at Canton Timken