2008 was a disappointing season for Lima Central Catholic as the
Thunderbirds, who had gotten used to playoff appearances, finished with a
5-5 record and no postseason berth. Things turned around quickly in
2009, however, as Lima Central Catholic finished with eight regular
season wins, returned to the playoffs and advanced to the second round.
Lima Central Catholic
2009 record: 9-3
* Players To Watch – QB Ty O’Connor (6-2 ½, 202, jr.), RB Taylor Royster (5-11, 230, sr.), FS Bubba Krieg (5-10, 160, sr.), WR/DB Rufus Johnson (5-10, 165, sr.), C Max Brodbeck (6-2, 240, sr.), OG Jeremy Tidd (6-0, 220, sr.), OT Anthony Kimbrough (6-2, 245, sr.), DL Sean Griesdorn (6-4, 250, jr.)
* Outlook – 2008 was a disappointing season for Lima Central Catholic as the Thunderbirds, who had gotten used to playoff appearances, finished with a 5-5 record and no postseason berth. Things turned around quickly in 2009, however, as Lima Central Catholic finished with eight regular season wins, returned to the playoffs and advanced to the second round.
“I thought our kids did a nice job of bouncing back from a 5-5 year,” head coach Jerry Cooper said. “I’ve been at LCC for five years, and that made our fourth playoff team. So our kids realized what it was like not to be in the playoffs. I think they were hungry and competed real hard. We were pretty pleased with the progress we made last football season, especially with as many young kids as we played.”
The Thunderbirds had to fight through a major quarterback injury to get back to the playoffs, but fortunately a new face stepped in and performed admirably.
“One of the things we realized from the year before is it’s tough when critical kids get hurt,” Cooper said. “We had Lance Helmig break his neck and miss the whole season. He was a returning starting quarterback. So Ty O’Connor filled in that spot and did a great job. I think our kids realized that you have to compete as hard as you can and injuries are part of the game, but you have to look forward and do the best you can.”
O’Connor is among 13 total starters to return to this year’s team, which enters the season with high expectations.
“We feel like there’s a good nucleus to build around,” Cooper said. “Our kids’ confidence is up and positive. We obviously play a good schedule, but I think the components are all in place to have a real nice football season again.”
O’Connor (1,631 yards passing, 21 TDs, 7 INT) could be in for a big season if he follows the same pattern he did in 2009.
“We look for him to really step up and improve,” Cooper said. “He played really well last year as a sophomore. If he improves as much this year as he did last year, he’s going to be absolutely dynamite. The sky’s the limit there.
Adding to O’Connor’s production will be talented running back Taylor Royster, who rushed for 312 yards and five touchdowns in limited action last season.
“Taylor Royster, who was our leading rusher last year, he broke his ankle,” Cooper said. “He was our best back before he got hurt. Now he’s coming back for his senior season, and he’s extremely hungry and ready to compete. We feel he should be a real standout for us at the running back position.”
The offseason has been very positive for Lima Central Catholic as well. Some players have hit the weight room hard, while others gained valuable experience through basketball.
“There are a lot of positives that have gone on,” Cooper said. “Our offensive linemen have gained some real strength, and that’s been a real plus for us. Those guys have gotten into the weight room and worked extremely hard.
“Then a lot of our skill kids played on that state championship basketball team. Our high school basketball team was Division III high school basketball champions, and I think the confidence they gained from competing at the highest level, being in those big game atmospheres, I think that helps. Then one of the things those guys learned is in basketball, you’ve got to all get on the same page and everybody’s got to give up those individual accolades for the welfare of the team, and I think our team learned how to sacrifice and how to get together and learn some real concepts of unity. I think all of things tie together to make our program a little bit more competitive as we go forward.”
* Schedule – The Thunderbirds face a challenging schedule that includes some of the top small school programs in Ohio.
“I think we play a really competitive schedule for a Division V program,” Cooper said. “Our two non-league are two perennial high school powers. We play Delphos St. John’s, who probably over the past ten years has been the best Division VI program in the state. Our other non-conference game is Columbus Bishop Ready, who is a Division V perennial playoff team and a really competitive program.
“Then within our league, there’s a couple pretty good football rich tradition schools. Columbus Grove has had really good football over time. Bluffton and Delphos Jefferson have both had really good football success. Of late, Ada has been real nice and competitive. So our conference is pretty deep in football success and tradition. We feel like with the two non-conference teams we play and the eight-game conference football schedule that we play a really competitive football schedule.”
8/28/2010 at Delphos St. John’s
9/3/2010 Convoy Crestview
9/10/2010 at Paulding
9/17/2010 at Columbus Grove
9/25/2010 Delphos Jefferson
10/1/2010 at Spencerville
10/8/2010 at Columbus Bishop Ready
10/22/2010 Harrod Allen East
10/29/2010 at Ada