A return to the playoffs is high on the list of goals for the 2015 edition of the Colonel Crawford football squad. Head coach Ryan Teglovic said he believes his ballclub is ready to step up and make that goal a reality.
Teglovic, entering his eighth season as Eagles’ head coach, said a heart-breaking 29-27 home loss to Bucyrus on Sept. 26, 2014, kept his ballclub from reaching the postseason for the third consecutive season, despite its 8-2 record. The defeat also snapped a three-game winning streak that the Eagles had built over their Crawford County rival. He and his staff have emphasized the importance of taking care of all facets of the game, including the seemingly insignificant things.
“If we take care of that game early on, it was play here, one play there, then we do make it to the playoffs,” Teglovic said. “We’ve talked to the kids about that, that it’s one rep here on the practice field, watching film just a little bit more, one more rep on the bench press; those kinds of things, because one play, basically, kept us out of the playoffs last year. We want to do everything we can to maybe remedy that this year.”
One remedy for the Eagles is having 17 seniors on the 2015 roster. Included among them are a dual-threat quarterback, a speedy wide receiver, and experienced offensive and defensive linemen and linebackers.
“The senior class is a good group, a close-knit group,” Teglovic said. “We’ve got some playmakers in there and some size up front. Our numbers overall are pretty good. We’ve got close to 60 kids this year. If we stay away from injuries and kids getting in trouble and those kinds of things, we should be able to compete.”
Quarterback Will Kirkpatrick (6-0, 215, Sr.) passed for 1,128 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 1,145 yards and 11 scores in 2014. Also back in the fold is wide receiver Owen Adams (6-0, 165, Sr.) who had 375 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago. Three-year starter Chase Mandusic (6-0, 230, Sr.) is the most experienced offensive lineman at left guard and also plays defensive end.
“We’ve got experience at quarterback and that always helps,” Teglovic said. “We’ve got high expectations for Will, obviously. Owen is a tremendous playmaker. I think he had four special teams touchdowns last year. He was a two-way starter last year for us. As a sophomore, Chase played on a 9-1 playoff and he had a great year last year. He’ll anchor our line this year. But we’ve got a lot of other guys up front who have good experience. We hope to have a good year.”
Kirkpatrick’s backfield mates in the Wing-T will be Michael Knisely (5-10, 165, Jr.) at running back and Blake Treisch (6-0, 190, Jr.) at fullback. In addtion to Adams, the receiving corps features wideout Brock Cotsmire (6-0, 160, Sr.) and a rotation of Josh Dye (6-1, 230, Sr.), Zack Lyons (5-10, 175, Sr.) and Cam Spangler (5-11, 180, Jr.) at tight end.
Joining Mandusic up front are left tackle Jack Stulter (6-1, 240, Sr.), center Casey Miller (6-0, 200, Sr.), right guard Caleb Sherman (6-3, 200, Jr.) and right tackle Jake Lohr (6-1, 200, Jr.).
Mandusic and Dye are the ends in the Eagles’ 4-3 defense. Josh Chance (5-10, 300, Sr.) and Hunter Roberts (5-10, 220, Sr.) will be asked to lock down the middle of the line.
Nash Mollenkopf (6-0, 185, Sr.) is the QB of the defense at middle linebacker. The outside linebackers are Kirkpatrick, Treisch and Tyson Scott (5-10, 195, Sr.).
Adams and Noah Ferguson (6-0, 180, Sr.) are the safeties while Cotsmire and Kyle Rowlinson (5-10, 145, Sr.) will patrol the corners.
Ferguson does the placekicking for the Eagles and Adams is the punter.
“We lost our running backs and three defensive backs to graduation, so we need some guys to step up for us,” Teglovic said.
Teglovic said he expects the Northern 10 race to be tight once again. Wynford won the league title in 2014, posting an 8-0 record in N10 play. The Eagles, Bucyrus and Carey each finished 6-2. Buckeye Central was 4-4 in the N10.
“It will be a challenge every week,” Teglovic said. “Wynford is the reigning champ and Buckeye Central and Seneca East return a lot of guys. Upper Sandusky, Carey and Mohawk have great tradition and will be tough to beat. Ridgedale will be better.”
Colonel Crawford opens the regular season Aug. 28 with a home date against Mount Gilead. N10 play starts Sept. 4 against Mohawk.
Reach Carter at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048, or on Twitter @ACGalionSports.