2009 was a bit of a transition year for the Northwood Rangers. Coming
off a 9-1 season, the Rangers fielded a young team that had some growing
pains but were able to put together a seven-win season and a postseason
berth. This season expectations are heightened.
2009 Record: 7-4
* Players To Watch: SS/RB Jake Pressley (6-2, 195, sr.), LB/RB Mike Prothero (5-10, 180, sr.), HB/LB Zack Bermejo (5-9, 177, sr.), DE/FB Corey Jones (6-1, 247, sr.), QB Erik Russell (5-10, 160, sr.), CB/SE John Romstadt (5-8, 145, sr.), MLB Nick Whitmore (6-0, 205, soph.), OL Matt Miller (5-9, 245, sr.), OL Tyler Johnson (5-10, 233, sr.), FS Ricky Hartley (6-0, 182, jr.)
* Outlook – 2009 was a bit of a transition year for the Northwood Rangers. Coming off a 9-1 season, the Rangers fielded a young team that had some growing pains but were able to put together a seven-win season and a postseason berth.
“Last year, I think we were a pretty physical team,” head coach Ken James said. “We were a little mistake-prone early. We had some games where maybe our kids played really hard, but we had situations where we had turnovers or a busted assignment here or there. We were a little erratic week to week. We got better as the year went along, but we were really young.
“We played five seniors most of the year and played a handful of freshmen and a mix of sophomores and juniors. We were typical of a young team where we were maybe a little erratic, but the other thing where we were atypical I think was we competed really hard. Even if things weren’t going well, we kept our heads about us and played hard.”
The team expected to have some struggles early on but the small group of seniors was a strong group, and things improved as the year progressed. This year’s team will have to avoid those struggles though if they want to reach their goals.
“I think they learned how important fundamentals are,” James said. “Competing hard is a good thing, but that doesn’t always get everything done for you… I think last year our kids learned the importance of fundamentals and preparation and how significant those are if you want to be really, really good. We were good last year, but if you want to be great, you’ve got to be better fundamentally and carry that into games with us.”
The majority of the 2009 squad will be back for the 2010 season, so much bigger things will be expected from the Rangers this season.
“The expectations will be high, but that’s pretty normal for us,” James said. “We’ve got starters back at 17 of 22 spots and everybody that touched the ball is back.”
Things have gone well in the offseason for the Rangers, and the team is expected to be improved.
“In terms of off-season development, we had some kids make some really good strides,” James said. “From a pure speed and explosiveness standpoint, we should be better than we were last year.”
The personnel is in place for the Rangers to have a strong 2010 season. The biggest step the team may need to take is avoiding big mistakes and doing the little things correctly.
“We think a key for us is just protecting the football and not giving up big plays on defense,” James said. “I think that might have bit us on the rear end last year on both sides of the ball… Little things are going to be important for us this year. We’ve got to get better in those areas, just small things – making sure we pick up blitzes on offense, making sure everybody’s in the right spot on defense. We feel like we should be able to do that because we’ve got a lot of experience back, kids that have been out there on Friday nights under the lights and should be pretty confident in their ability to get done what we need to do.”
* Schedule – The Rangers expect to have success in-conference if things fall into place. Out-of-conference, two foes await that have presented problems for the Rangers in recent years.
“We’ve had good success in our league lately, but some of the other teams in the league have a decent number of kids back,” James said. “We’ve got more starters back than anybody in the league, so obviously that should bode well for us as long as we play well and prepare hard.
“Non-league, we’ve got Lakota who we’ve struggled with; that’s our opener. They’ve had a solid team, so we’ve obviously got to win that game to get off on the right foot. Then Week 2 we have Lake, which is a big rival. They went 7-3 last year in the SLL, which obviously has some top-notch teams. We had Genoa on the schedule last year and replaced them with Delta this year, who was young last year and struggled a little bit, but they’ve got just about everybody back. So we’ve got some difficult non-league games, and also we have Hopewell-Loudon, who obviously is Hopewell-Loudon. They’ve been in the state finals two of the last three years and made the playoffs for a pretty long streak. Non-league games are going to be crucial for us. If we want to get back in the playoffs, we’ve got to win the bulk of those and obviously compete for the league title.”
8/27/2010 Kansas Lakota (D-V)
9/3/2010 at Millbury Lake (D-IV)
9/10/2010 Bascom Hopewell-Loudon (D-VI)
9/17/2010 at Edon (D-VI)
9/24/2010 at Delta (D-V)
10/1/2010 at West Unity Hilltop (D-VI)
10/8/2010 Lakeside Danbury (D-VI)
10/15/2010 at Toledo Ottawa Hills (D-VI)
10/22/2010 Toledo Christian (D-VI)
10/29/2010 Oregon Cardinal Stritch (D-VI)