Columbus Watterson drops to D-III, faces brutal schedule after ‘very successful offseason’

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Columbus Watterson Eagles

Columbus Watterson made the postseason last year in Division II after missing the playoffs for the first time this decade in 2007. But the Eagles fell to bitter rival Columbus DeSales 20-17 in the first round. Watterson also fell to DeSales 21-17 in the regular season. Despite a buzz saw schedule ahead of the Eagles, head coach Dan Bjelac feels confident in his 2009 squad to get back to the playoffs.


Columbus Watterson (5-6)

* Players to Watch – QB/DB Dominic Clegg (5-11, 165,
Sr.), FB/LB Mark Theado (6-0, 220, Sr.), WR/DB Nick Liimatta (5-10, 149, Sr.),
FB/LB Matt Redfield (6-0, 191, Jr.), C/NG Craig Freeman (6-1, 248, Sr.), TE/DE
Marc Elberson (6-2, 175, Sr.), OT/DT Ryan Alu (6-1, 270, Sr.), TE/DE Taylor
Glancey (6-4, 210, Sr.), OG Kurt May (6-6, 315, Sr.), OG Andrew Buenning (6-3,
215), TE/LB Matt Schweitzer (6-3, 206, Sr.), QB Gregg Hock.

* Outlook – Columbus Watterson made the postseason last year in Division II after
missing the playoffs for the first time this decade in 2007. But the
Eagles fell to bitter rival Columbus DeSales 20-17 in the first round.

Watterson also fell to DeSales 21-17 in the regular season.

“(Division III) is still very competitive,” head coach Dan
Bjelac said. “I am sure there is a little difference there if you analyze the
points you need to get in the region to makes the playoffs. But you’ve go to
take care of things with the schedule you play first and then that will take
care of things with the playoffs.”

DeSales also drops into D-III and is in the same region.

“We’ve played them a lot of times twice in a season. But we
don’t worry too much about it – we just do it and it is what it is,” Bjelac
said. “It will always be a good game, they are well-coached, have some solid
kids back and you approach it from that point.”

Watterson loses some key players on both sides of the ball
but have some talent returning including Theado, Schweitzer, Elberson, Hock and
Liimatta on offense and Redfield, Clegg and Schweitzer on defense.

“I think we have had a very good offseason,” Bjelac said.
“As I look at our senior group, I think they are a very close-knit group.
Obviously, though, there are always question marks.”

Bjelac said there are some concerns at the offensive skill
positions, in particular, as well as the secondary but is pleased with the
players that will be stepping into those positions.

“They have done a very good job at stepping up to every
challenge that we have set forth for them in the offseason and hopefully that
will carry on into the season,” he said. “I think the camaraderie and the
leadership (is what is characterizing) this team. I think this group is pretty
close knit in that regard.”

As usual, Watterson’s schedule includes a who’s who of Ohio
high school football programs regardless of division. The Eagles will tune up
with scrimmages against Upper Arlington and Sunbury Big Walnut, respectively.

“We feel good about it. The schedule is what it is and it
is a tough one as usual,” Bjelac said. “But we’re going to attack it full force
and go from there. That is kind of how we look at things.

“It is one of those things where there is not a week where
there is not a challenge.”

Schedule

Aug. 28, at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4,
Westerville South
, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 11, at Reynoldsburg, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18, Cincinnati Winton Woods, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 26, at Cleveland Benedictine, 7 p.m.

Oct. 2, Cincinnati LaSalle, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 9, at Columbus St. Francis DeSales, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 17, at Warren (Mich.) De La Salle Collegiate, 3 p.m.

Oct. 23, Columbus St. Charles, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 30, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, 7 p.m.

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