Expect business as usual for Hamler Patrick Henry this season

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Hamler Patrick Henry Patriots

It was business as usual for Hamler Patrick Henry in 2008. The Patriots put
together a 12-win season, continued an unprecedented streak of conference
success and appeared in their fifth regional final game in six years.

And there’s no reason to believe the success won’t carry over into the 2009
season.




Players To Watch

Players To Watch: HB/S Justin Buenger (5-11, 185, Sr.), QB/S Luke
George (5-11, 195, Sr.), FB/LB Bill Miller (6-0, 190, Sr.), OT Brad Yarnell
(6-0, 255, Sr.), G Collin Hogrefe (6-1, 180, Sr.), NG Xavier Dye (5-9, 175,
Jr.), DE Aaron George (5-11, 200, Sr.), DE Josh Almanza (6-0, 200, Jr.)

It was business as usual for Hamler Patrick Henry in 2008. The Patriots put
together a 12-win season, continued an unprecedented streak of conference
success and appeared in their fifth regional final game in six years.

“We successfully completed our seventh consecutive league championship,” head
coach Bill Inselmann said. “That was one of our preseason goals. We wanted to
get back to the regional finals; that was another goal, we made that. We ran
into a very good Liberty-Benton team. That’s one of the better defenses we faced
over the years. I think we had a very good season with what we wanted to get
into, and I thought we lost to a very good football team, so I thought we
achieved most of our goals.”

There’s no reason to believe the success won’t carry over into the 2009
season. The Patriots return 11 overall starters and have a high degree of
confidence and a strong offseason to build on.

“One of the biggest things our kids have going right now is our kids are
confident and they believe they can win,” Inselmann said. “That’s probably
something I think that’s really picked up over this past eight years.

“We’ve had a successful offseason. The kids are working hard. At a small
school like ours, we’ve got a lot of kids that are involved in other sports,
which is very good, so we share our athletes. If they’re not in another sport,
they happen to work very hard for us.”

The team’s strongest areas might be at quarterback and running back, where
two All-Ohio candidates are leading the way.

“One of our strengths we know is definitely going to be our offensive
backfield,” Inselmann said. “We’re going to return an excellent quarterback, a
tremendous leader in Luke George (1,681 yards passing, 16 TD, 3 INT). We’ve got
our all-time rushing leader in terms of yardage at Patrick Henry, and that’s
Justin Buenger (1,645 yards, 10.2 average), back. We’ve got some other very
capable running back. Our offensive line, we’ve got some leaders back but we’ve
got some young kids that are going to have to step up, so that’s going to be an
interesting area.”

Wide receiver, however, will be an area of concern for the Patriots. 

“The biggest rebuilding area probably in the last eight years we’ve had to
have at a key position is probably our wide receiver position,” Inselmann said.
“We lost some good ones there, lost all of our depth, so wide receiver is going
to be our biggest question mark going into the season.”

On defense, Patrick Henry lost a monster in the middle in defensive tackle
Cody Pettit, who was Division V defensive player of the year. But the cupboard
isn’t bare on defense for the Patriots.

“Defensively, we lost some very good defensive interior (players),” Inselmann
said. “That’s a concern for us. Cody Pettit’s gone on a full ride to Central
Michigan, and that’s the first time we’ve ever had a defensive lineman lead us
in tackles. So that’ll be a big area of concern, but we’ve got some kids that
can lead us on defense as well. It’ll be an interesting season depending on how
our youth develops on the offensive line, defensive interior and especially at
wide receiver.”

Patrick Henry’s schedule features both new and familiar foes.

“We think that our non-league schedule this year is going to be as good as
it’s been in years,” Inselmann said. “At Leipsic, Joe Kirkendall is doing a
tremendous job there. They’re going to be a team on the rise. Then we picked up
Eastwood, and they’re a perennial power that I think has won or shared their
league six of the last seven years, so it’s going to be an interesting game
there.

“In our league, some of the bigger schools are going to be teams to be
reckoned with. They’re going to be big physically and have good depth, and
that’s Bryan and Wauseon, and traditional power Liberty Center is always going
to be there as well. So we’re going to have a tough schedule this year.”

The expectation level for Patrick Henry remains sky high, as the team is
aiming for another league crown and aren’t just thinking playoffs but how far
they can go.  

“I think that we still have that same excitement we’ve been having with a lot
of success,” Inselmann said. “Our kids, they’ve already been saying every time
they break the huddle in the weight room (in the spring) ‘eight-peat,’ which has
been unprecedented. The most ever was a five-peat in our league. I really think
we want to get back to the finals if we can in Division V, which is going to be
very difficult with Coldwater coming in and Ursuline still there and
Liberty-Benton. We want to get as far as we can in the playoffs, so I think we
have to stay hungry. I think our kids are going to approach it that way.”

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