2009 Record: 13-2
* Players To Watch – WR Reese Klenke (6-4, 185, sr.), WR/DB Kurt Schoenherr (5-11, 165, sr.), LB/RB Aaron Rammel (6-0, 190, sr.), RB/DB Ross Wermert (5-11, 170, sr.), QB Ethan Bettinger (5-11, 175, sr.), OL/DL Kyle Post (6-1, 220, sr.)
* Outlook – Coldwater has been one of the premier football programs in the state over the past decade. The team has made the postseason every year since 1997 and appeared in state championship games in 2000, 2005, and 2007, winning the latter two.
But even though the Cavaliers have become such a fixture in the postseason that it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise what they do, there were some people last year that didn’t expect Coldwater to get back to their fourth state title game of the decade. But the Cavs did. Coldwater fell 55-25 to Youngstown Ursuline.
“We had lost a lot of guys from a really, really good senior class, with Cory Klenke and Adam Homan and Tony Harlamert, so I think the expectations from lots of people were that we would have a downfall there,” head coach Chip Otten said. “But we had a group of seniors that really followed these guys up and really stepped it up.
The 2009 Cavaliers were cleaned out due to graduation, or so it seemed on paper. 22 seniors were lost from a team that steamrolled through the regular season undefeated and advanced to the regional finals in Division IV. But as it turned out, losing all those players just meant that a new group of 16 talented seniors would step in and take over.
Leading the way was quarterback Keith Wenning, who put together a stellar season good enough to capture Division V offensive player of the year honors despite not having much experience at quarterback. Joining Wenning was a cast of inexperienced but opportunistic skill players and linemen who wound up stepping up and making plays all year long.
“For the most part, the main guys were all senior guys that were really untested until last year with the exception of a few,” Otten said. “For the kids themselves it wasn’t a surprise, but for everybody else, we surprised a lot of people that we could keep that high level of play.”
Looking ahead to 2010, the situation the Cavaliers face on paper seems strangely familiar. Only three starters return on each side of the ball, and it’s time for a new group of players to step in.
“Again, we lose pretty much a huge portion of our starters,” Otten said. “Probably our strength is going to be our skill guys again. Reese Klenke, Aaron Rammel, and Kurt Schoenherr are three really, really good skilled receivers.”
Wenning will be missed at quarterback, and expecting a new starter to put up a repeat performance might be too much to ask. But there are at least two candidates waiting to show what they can do.
“Quarterback is going to be a huge thing that we’re going to have to develop,” Otten said. “We have a senior, Ethan Bettinger, who has really paid his dues and hopefully he can do the job. I have confidence in him. Mentally, he’s really good. Then we have a sophomore named Austin Bruns, a big 6-foot-4 guy who has a ton of potential and is a good kid, but he’s got a ways to go mentally with the kind of things that we do.”
As was the case in 2009, whoever takes over at quarterback will be playing behind a line that has capable players but not a lot of experience.
“Just like last year, we’re going to have to rebuild the O- and D-Line with lots of young guys,” Otten said. “We have very few big, big kids. With what we do, size isn’t real, real important, but if we want to try to run the ball a little more, that’s going to be a huge issue.”
The Cavaliers will have plenty of new faces on defense as well, but right now the outlook seems brighter than on offense.
“I think we’ll be ahead of the offense on defense because we have a lot of kids who can run and hit pretty good,” Otten said. “So again, we don’t need a lot of big guys for our defense, especially now that so many teams are in the spread. Probably six, seven of the teams we play run the spread. That’s a plus for us I guess because we have a lot of kids that are skill-kind of guys.”
While the situation on the field looks familiar, things will look quite a bit different on the sidelines. Longtime head coach John Reed passed away in the spring after a lengthy battle with cancer, and now Otten will take over the head coaching position. However, the transition from Reed to Otten will hopefully be made as seamless as possible.
“We’re hoping to keep that very similar,” Otten said. “All the coaches are coming back obviously with the exception of John. We have a teacher in school that used to coach, and he’s coming back. So hopefully that transition will be pretty smooth. There’s obviously going to be challenges in there because they’re used to John and now I guess I’m a very different personality than John, so hopefully we can continue the same basic philosophical things with maybe different personalities doing that.”
* Schedule – As always, the Cavaliers face a daunting schedule – one that they are accustomed to due to playing year in and year out in Ohio’s toughest small school conference. It starts with a tough non-conference challenge and then continues all the way through Week 10 with tough Midwest Athletic Conference competition.
“Right off the bat, we have Kenton, and they have probably one of the best quarterbacks in the state (Maty Mauk),” Otten said. “That’s a huge game for us because they’re a division above us, and they’re going to get a ton of points for us if we can beat them.
“The league is very difficult. Fortunately I guess for this year, almost everybody lost a lot of good, key players with the exception of probably Delphos (St. John’s). Delphos has the most coming back. They did lose they’re quarterback, but they’ve got a ton of guys coming back, so that’ll be a huge hurdle. And of course, just like always, St. Henry, Marion (Local), Anna, Versailles is really improving and getting close to back maybe where they were four or five or six years ago. The league is just tough; you just have to go in there every week and keep plugging away.”
8/27 at Kenton
9/3 Bellefontaine Benjamin Logan
9/10 at Anna
9/17 St. Henry
9/24 at Versailles
10/1 Rockford Parkway
10/8 at Delphos St. John’s
10/15 Maria Stein Marion Local
10/22 at New Bremen