West Branch’s Altenhof optimistic after ‘real good offseason’


Beloit West Branch Warriors

Beloit West Branch last made the playoffs in 2007 and have made
it four times since 2000.

Do the Warriors have what it takes to get back to the playoffs with a brutal Northern Buckeye Conference schedule on the horizon?

Beloit West Branch (5-5)

* Players to Watch

DL/OL Brad Ferguson
(6-5, 255, Sr.), QB Mike Smith (5-11, 170, Sr.),
WR/DB Jake Gonci (6-4, 185, Sr.), WR/DB Bo Beegle (5-10, 180, Sr.), OL/DL
Brandon Ferguson (6-7, 240, Jr.), OL/DL Nathan Gambone (6-3, 250, Sr.), OL/DL
Jon Wilson (6-1, 250, Sr.), RB Mark Smith (6-0, 205, Sr.), OL/DL Seth Guy (5-11,
245, Sr.)

Outlook – They have a common last name but there is
nothing pedestrian about their abilities on the grid iron.

With Mike Smith under center and Mark Smith toting the ball
for Beloit West Branch, the offensvie foundation returns this season
for the Warriors.

Mike Smith was 123-of-217 passing for 1,811 yards, 17
touchdowns and nine interceptions last season while Mark Smith had 71 carries
for 507 yards and four touchdowns.

But there is a drop off after that, according to head coach
Bob Altenhof.

“Other than (Mike and Mark Smith), we’re going to have to
rely on some young guys in the skill positions,” he said. “There are some
unproven guys so that is concerning.

“We’ve got some underclassmen we’re hoping to get big
things from but they are unproven at this point.”

Altenhof is pleased with the personnel in the trenches on
both sides of the ball with the Ferguson brothers, Gambone, Guy and Wilson on
the line.

“We’re going to have real good depth upfront and we’ll have
real strong offensive and defensive line,” he said.

West Branch struggled in Northerneastern Buckeye Conference play
last season going 2-5 against league opponents. The NBC isn’t going to get an easier this
season with Canal Fulton Northwest, Louisville and Canton South each vying for the league title.

“We’re just hoping to improve,” Altenhof said. “We got off
to a good start last year but then the NBC was really, really good and
we ended up staggering to the finish. We hope to get off to another fast start
but we hope to maintain it this season in the conference. But it will be a

Should West Branch survive the NBC and make the postseason,
the Warriors will face a new challenge moving from Region 11 to the Region 9
meat grinder.

The Warriors last made the playoffs in 2007 and have made
it four times since 2000.

“There are definitely some good, quality teams (in Region
9) and there were some quality teams in our old region,” Altenhof said. “You’re
going to have to beat good people in the playoffs no matter what region you’re

But Altenhof feels he has a good foundation to work with
now that practice is underway.

“We’ve had a real good offseason. All of our kids have done
a real nice job in the weight room and a nice job in the running program,” he


Aug. 28, at Ravenna Southeast, 7 p.m.

Sept. 4, at New Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 11, Salem, 7 p.m.

Sept. 18, Carrollton, 7 p.m.

Sept. 25, at Alliance, 7 p.m.

Oct. 2, Louisville, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9, at Canton South, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16, Minerva, 7 p.m.

Oct. 23, at Canal Fulton Northwest, 7 p.m.

Oct. 30, Alliance Marlington, 7 p.m.


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