Some questions remain, but lots of talent back from 2017
GALION — After a 5-5 finish last fall, including a 2-5 mark in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference football standings, good for a fifth-place tie, the Galion Tigers have high expectations.
Head coach Matt Dick will once again lead the Tigers. He is entering his third year with the team and has an overall record of 7-13 (3-11 in the MOAC). The coach saw 11 players lost to graduation from last season’s .500 squad, a big stride forward from the team’s 2016 record of 2-8, Dick’s first season.
Among the players that graduated last spring were Harrison Ivy and Takoda Crisman.
Ivy was the starter under center and the only Galion player to receive league honors. He rushed for 901 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns and threw for 1,132 yards and 13 scores. Crisman racked up 731 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
However, with loss comes the opportunity for new names to step up and make a difference, including filling the starting quarterback position for the third time in three years for the head coach.
“We are returning six offensive linemen this season that have a real depth of knowledge of our system,” Dick said. “Our primary receiving core of Gage Lackey, Isaiah Alsip and Kalib Griffin is really good. The key to our offense is going to be how fast our new quarterbacks and running backs can grow up. At both positions, we have a lot of talent and competition. Between senior Elias Middleton and sophomore Wilson Frankhouse at quarterback and Colbey Fox and Trevor O’brien looking to find their stride in the backfield, it should be an interesting battle.”
With Karson Rinehart, Ethan Jones, Wyatt Hollis, James Burkholder, John Abouhassan and Noah Grochowalski on the line, the Tigers will continue to look for depth in the backfield, and see what the two new quarterbacks can do, especially with Middleton seeing little time last season behind Ivy on the depth chart. The orange and blue will primarily use the spread and “I” formations. Galion returns eight letterwinners — all starters — from last season’s offense.
As for the defense, a 4-3 base set-up, it is a similar story. Galion returns nine letterwinners, with six of the players being starters.
“As always, we are focused on stopping the run and have continuously made that a point of emphasis this off-season,” Dick said. “A weakness in our defense would be a lack of experience on the line and in our secondary. Fox, Alsip, Griffin and Middleton will provide some experience in that secondary, and Abouhassan and Grochowalski should be solid defensive linemen for us. Steve Hoffman and Gavin Pennington have played inside linebacker for the past two years and we expect big years out of both of them in 2018.”
Very little has changed for the Tigers as far as special teams go. Sophomore Dominic Pittman will still be doing the kicking for Galion after taking over the job last season. Sophomores Alsip and Griffin will both be back deep as kick returners, while Alsip will handle the punting and Griffin the punt returns.
The 2018 season will be the last season of the MOAC as it is currently known. Buckeye Valley (7-3, 5-2 in 2017) and North Union (4-6, 2-5) will depart the conference after this season and, as of now, will be replaced by the Shelby Whippets. Shelby is already a member of the conference in all other sports. except football. Clear Fork dominated the league in its first year, going a perfect, 7-0 inner-conference en route to a playoff berth and an overall record of 11-1. Also in their first year in the MOAC last season was the Ontario Warriors. Ontario had a rough season, finishing winless in the conference at 0-7 and posted just a 2-8 overall mark.
“The league is going to be very tough yet again this year and we will continue to change our daily habits to become a better team,” Dick said. “We are looking to take the next step and compete with everyone. There are no bye weeks in the MOAC and every week will come down to a tremendous amount of effort and execution, especially in the fourth quarter.”
Galion’s season kicks off Friday when they host Bucyrus Redmen for the battle of the Seccaium Park Trophy. The Tigers bested the Redmen last season 34-0, to claim the trophy in the 106th meeting between the two teams. Bucyrus has not won the Seccaium Park Trophy since 2008. Kickoff Friday is 7 p.m.
After playing two additional Northern-10 Athletic Conference schools, Carey and Upper Sandusky, in weeks two and three, the Tigers will begin their MOAC trek on Friday, Sept. 14 when they host Pleasant .