With the majority of their starters returning from their 2007 playoff
team, the Tinora Rams had high expectations in 2008. But things didn’t
quite go as planned last season. While a 7-3 season is far from a disaster, the coaches and players knew that it fell short of their goal. Theyir determined not to let it happen again.
* Players To Watch – QB Landon Drewes (6-1, 165, Jr.), FB/CB Lyndon Benecke (5-10, 155, Sr.), TB/LB Blake Foor (5-10, 190, Sr.), TE Curtis Hansford (6-4, 225, Sr.), K Alex Moser (6-0, 145, Jr.), FS/SE/P Ethan McKinney (6-2, 190, Sr.)
* Outlook – With the majority of their starters returning from their 2007 playoff team, the Tinora Rams had high expectations in 2008. But things didn’t quite go as planned last season.
“We finished 7-3 and lost two ball games — to Liberty Center and (Sherwood) Fairview — by one touchdown and could have easily been 9-1,” head coach Kenny Krouse said. “We lost our other game to Delphos St. John’s, the eventual state champions in Division VI. We didn’t quite live up to our expectations as far as making the playoffs the year before and getting knocked out by a real good Liberty-Benton team. To be very honest, what we’ve told our kids is it just wasn’t what we (expected).”
While a 7-3 season is far from a disaster, the coaches and players knew that it fell short of their goal.
“The bar has been raised for our program,” Krouse said. “Ten years ago, we accept (the 7-3 season). You take that and run. But with the success we’ve had recently, obviously we wish we’d had won our league and got to the postseason, which we didn’t.”
The team will be able to use the 2008 season as a learning experience, as the Rams were competitive in their losses against the aforementioned playoff teams.
“Playing Delphos St. John’s in Week 2, we competed,” Krouse said. “We were down 14-7 at half and let one get away. Their real good tailback broke one with under a minute to go in the half or we would have gone in at 7-7. We got to taste and see first hand — because there’s not a lot of difference between D-V and D-VI especially when it’s a team from the MAC winning the title — that we’re not that far.
“Then you also see how good you have to be as far as your execution on Friday night to beat the upper echelon, and we weren’t that good as far as our execution. We made way too many mistakes in those big ball games. Take nothing away from those teams that beat us — they beat us on those nights and they were better than us — but you’ve got to execute and be pretty darn good in everything you do in all three facets of the game, and we weren’t. We made way too many mistakes.”
Krouse feels that improving on-field execution is the first step in the team reaching its potential.
“I think we’ve just got to get better in our execution as far as some of the things in our game planning and being able to perform on Friday night. We just had some problems early on in those big ball games and made some crucial mistakes,” Krouse said. “We threw an interception the first series against Liberty Center, fumbled inside the red zone against Delphos St. John’s — just things you can’t do against real good ball clubs.”
Krouse also would like to see the team’s overall conditioning improve before the start of the season.
“We have to continue to get a little bit better because we do play a lot of kids both ways, and it was extremely hot those first two ball games,” Krouse said. “So we really stress getting in a little bit better condition. We share a lot of those kids (with other sports), so the month of June, a lot of them are playing baseball and in the gym for basketball, so getting them to do a little bit more on their own is really huge for us.”
This year, the outlook and expectations remain the same. The majority of starters return for Tinora, and the team faces the same opponents as well.
“We return almost everybody again from last year’s ballclub, minus a couple All-Ohio players in John Hammersmith and Lucas Willitzer, who will be tough to replace,” Krouse said. “I think we return nine on both sides of the ball again.
“(Schedule-wise) it’s the same as what we faced last year. Again, our games one, two and four are huge, and those are the three games we lost with Liberty Center, Delphos and Sherwood Fairview being our first league game. So that is huge that we get off to a good start. We play very, very good competition to prep us for league play and postseason.”
Krouse feels the team will excel in the areas of speed and experience but that depth could be a concern.
“We have extremely good team speed again, and we’ve got a nice senior class,” he said. “We have about 15, 16 seniors, and we’re very experienced. Our seniors that are starting have been playing since they were sophomores. We return a lot of experience. We don’t have a tremendous amount of depth past our first-teamers, and we never have. With a school our size, we’re kind of limited there a little bit. Then another thing — you can’t make excuses but we got hit with the injury bug last season. We have to stay healthy, so we really tried to up some things as far as our offseason prep, trying to get our kids in a little better condition for the season.”
Tinora as an athletic program has had terrific success recently in sports such as basketball and baseball. That success has helped fuel the excitement for the possibilities of this year’s football team.
“With what our basketball team was able to do — to be state-runner up last year — and our baseball team going to regionals, and beating Coldwater again in two sports, absolutely,” Krouse said. “That’s very contagious in a small school where kids carry over from sport to sport. Our kids have talked about going a little deeper than the second round of the playoffs. Obviously you have to get there first, and they found that out first and foremost that even though we’ve been in five out of seven years, you’ve got to win some of those big ball games to get enough points to get in. So I think they experienced first-hand how crucial the first part of our schedule is.”
8/28 LIBERTY CENTER
9/4 @ ST JOHN’S (DELPHOS)
9/11 UPPER SCIOTO VALLEY (MC GUFFEY)
9/18 @ FAIRVIEW (SHERWOOD)
9/25 @ ANTWERP
10/2 WAYNE TRACE (HAVILAND)
10/9 @ AYERSVILLE (DEFIANCE)
10/23 @ EDGERTON