Girls soccer gaining game experience
By Michael Krieger
Despite losses in both of the season’s opening games, the Rossford girls soccer team has “shown improvement from game one to game two,” according to new head Coach Mike Pierce.
“We’re not focusing on wins and losses as much as we are on getting better game to game,” he said.
Although the score in the first two games didn’t show it, he believes his team showed improvement and an enhanced ability to work together.
Pierce is in his first year as the varsity girls coach. However, he is not lacking in soccer coaching experience.
He has coached a club team, ESSL Arsenal, for the last 10 years and last year he served as the assistant varsity girls coach at Oak Harbor.
He believes in teaching the game to the girls by creating game situations in their practices.
“I like to let them learn the game by letting the game teach itself,” he noted. “We practice game-type situations and so far they are responding well.”
He acknowledges that the soccer players, despite being inexperienced, have been hard-working and eager to learn the game.
Key returners from last year’s team are Jenna Demko, Taylor Royal, Alyssa Carroll and Kathleen Hermes.
While they provide the most experience and some athleticism, Coach Pierce wants to use this year as a base for the future of the program.
“I want to get more involved with the Rec program to reach out to younger players,” Pierce said. “We need to get kids playing soccer at a younger age. That is where we lack compared to other schools in our district.”
In the meantime, the current team will continue gaining the necessary game experience so the future might be realized sooner than later.
Cross country strides toward improvement
By Michael Krieger
The Rossford High School varsity cross country program strides into the start of a new season with high hopes for improvement.
With nine boys and six girls, the Bulldogs look to improve on a sixth place finish in the Northern Buckeye Conference last year.
The boys team, especially, should be better. They return all runners from last year’s squad, leaning on key returners Nolan York, Jake Pietrasz, Tanner Krotzer and John Bergstrom in their efforts this season.
“We are looking for a fifth runner,” Head Coach Vern Kiehl said.
In varsity cross country, seven runners make up the team, and five runners count for the team score.
Kiehl is in his fifth year as head coach and believes the team’s improvement is inevitable.
“They are a year older. They’ve worked hard in the off-season,” said Kiehl, whose main focus for the Bulldogs is “to keep it fun.”
To do that, he doesn’t generally push his runners to complete extensive mileage.
“They only run three miles in races, so there’s no reason to do more than five miles to train for races,” he explained.
Kiehl has a similar outlook for the girls team–to see them improve race to race and stay injury free.
Returning letter winners Kayla Kirkman and Maddie Potts should pace the efforts this season.
Kiehl is encouraged by the team’s numbers this year and hopes to recruit more runners for the future.
For this season, the coach’s goals are simple. “The intention is to improve by one second over the previous race.”
Both teams open the season this Saturday, August 29 at Mills Creek Golf Course in Sandusky for the Sandusky St. Mary’s Warm Up Run. This is a two-mile event that serves as a light beginning to a season that will see the team competing in conference jamboree events and Saturday invitationals through October.
The first NBC jamboree will be September 1 at Elmwood.
Bulldogs prepped for Northern Buckeye title shot
By Michael Krieger
By Michael Krieger
Head Varsity Football Coach Todd Drusback shies away from saying Rossford is a favorite to win the Northern Buckeye Conference championship this season.
But he will acknowledge that it is “time to get over the hump.”
“We have been in the middle for the past three years,” he said. “It’s time to take that next step.”
The Bulldogs have finished fourth for three consecutive years.
While they have managed to be dominant against most teams in the NBC, they are regularly stopped by the power trio of Lake, Genoa and Eastwood.
And all three look to be tough competition for Rossford again this year.
The Bulldogs bring back a host of experience and athleticism at several key positions, and the players seem ready for the challenge ahead.
“This is the best skill group we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Drusback explained. “We have depth, for a change, at several spots.”
Returning for RHS are all-league selections Erik Davis and Chase Baney.
Davis accounted for more than 1,000 yards of total offense and 18 touchdowns last year. He will be used in a variety of ways in the offense this season.
Baney makes the transition from a hybrid flanker position to quarterback. So far, he is picking up the change quickly.
Drusback likes the run dimension that Baney brings to the position because of the strain it can put on opposing defenses.
Other key returners are Travis Szczublewski, Sam Beale, Spencer Shultz, Brennan Reynolds, Nick Wagner and Kyle Sherman.
According to Drusback, “Sherman has been the ultimate team guy. He has been playing in multiple positions, and he has been good about helping Chase with the switch to quarterback.”
Sherman has significant game experience at quarterback as well.
Wagner is stronger and more athletic and should contribute on both sides of the ball after an injury plagued season last year.
“Nick is the kind of player that we have wanted to have, but just haven’t quite found,” the coach said. “He gives a lot of versatility whether it’s running the ball or making catches.”
Baney isn’t the only one making a change this year. Several players converted to new positions to gain more playing time and help the team.
“We want to get our best 11 on the field at the same time,” Drusback noted. “To do that, some guys had to accept new positions. We’ve been happy with their development so far.”
The Bulldog coach also sees several other players poised to make an impact this season.
Ben Sauter has been a big surprise so far, he said, and brings intelligence and size to the offensive line and the defensive end positions.
Cody Orr looks strong at safety. Billy Zeller is emerging on the offensive line, and sure-handed junior Cota Sinclair returns to the receiving ranks after a one-year hiatus from football.
For the Bulldogs to accomplish their goals, Drusback believes the team needs to take better care of the football and stop the run.
“The upper echelon teams in our league are run-oriented,” he pointed out. “If we stop the run, it will create opportunities for our offense.”
This season fans should see a much improved run defense with a team who tackles better and is more aggressive.
On offense, the goal is to get the ball to the athletes in space and let them create, he said, adding that the Bulldogs should have much better red zone efficiency this year–an area that has been their Achilles’ heel in previous seasons.
Rossford opens the 2015 season tomorrow evening at home against non-conference opponent, Bowling Green. The two teams have traded victories the past two seasons with BG winning last year.
“BG should be solid up front,” Drusback predicted. “They lost a lot of skill players but should be aggressive.”
The Bobcats are expected to enter the game with some confidence after qualifying for state playoffs last year.
“How quickly we develop up front will make the difference,” Drusback said.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
RHS track relies on Clay, improved boys team
By Michael Krieger
Wet spring weather so far has hampered the start of the Rossford varsity track season. The team finally opened their 2015 campaign April 10 with their first ever trip to the Evergreen Invitational.
Head Coach Todd Eckel intended to use the meet as a way to gauge the Bulldogs’ readiness for the new season, in which the boys and girls squads look to build off some success last year.
Even though both finished in the lower half of league standings last season, they produced strong individual performances. Many of those runners are back, although the girls team suffered some key losses to graduation.
The Lady Bulldogs will look to find replacements for Jessica Pietrasz and Shelbi Redway–members of the state qualifying 4x200m relay team. Pietrasz, in fact, has continued her career at Youngstown State.
“Those are some big points to make up for,” Eckel said. “They will be hard to replace.”
The good news for the girls is that one of the area’s most exciting track athletes, Regan Clay returns and will be counted on to generate much of the team points.
“She has the kind of ability to be a league champ in three or four events on her own,” the coach noted.
While just a sophomore, Clay will look to build off a sensational freshman season that saw her crowned the Northern Buckeye Championship Female Athlete of the Year en route to league championships and a record-breaking performance in the 200m and the 400m.
She also served as anchor of the 4x200m relay team that went to state. Clay actually qualified for state in three events, most notably a third place finish in the 400m.
While Eckel knows that he has individuals who can drive the team toward its goals this year, he also is aware that it might be difficult to put together relay teams.
Clay will be joined by Taylor Stolar, the fourth member of the state qualifying 4x200m relay team, but the search is on for two more girls to round out that team.
Senior Evlyn Ohms, an athlete who has paid her dues, could step into an expanded role, along with sophomore Natalie Campbell, alternate for the state team.
The coach believes the boys team, however, should improve considerably.
“We could have a solid team,” Eckel said. “We return a lot of boys and have gained some good athletes.”
They are particularly deep in the throwing events. Senior Nate Childress, the current record holder in discus, was a regional qualifier last year, and looks to break his own school record in the discus. But he also could challenge the school record in the shot put as well.
Seniors John Pupik and Cody Igo should provide some additional scoring in these events along with some team leadership.
In the running events, the Bulldogs boast the return of sophomore Greg Nawrocki in the 1600m, who demonstrated some maturity as a freshman, placing at league and turning in another competitive race at districts.
He will be pushed by hard-working freshman Jake Pietrasz, brother of Jessica, in the distance races.
The team will not be short on speed either with the improvement of junior Chase Baney in the individual sprint events and sophomore Reed Jackson returning in the hurdles.
Plus, the Bulldogs added athletes Erik Davis and Matthew Fuerst.
They are running track for the first time, but have established their athleticism in other sports; Davis in football, basketball and baseball; Fuerst in soccer and basketball. Both could contribute immediately as sprinters and Davis will get a look in the hurdles at least early on.
“Right now, the team is kind of untested,” Eckel acknowledged. “But it will be exciting to see which individuals step up.”
With the addition of some proven runners and the promise of new Bulldogs in significant roles, the Rossford track team looks at many ways to achieve success this season.