RHS basketball team shoots for NBC repeat
By Michael Krieger
After an exciting and successful football season, the Rossford Bulldogs are turning their attention to the hardwood and a basketball season that promises the pursuit of another Northern Buckeye Conference title.
With six returning letter winners, five of whom have starting experience, Rossford should again be a team to beat in the conference.
Last year’s team went 18-5 and finished as NBC co-champions with the Lake Flyers.
The Bulldogs bring a host of experience to the table and play a challenging schedule that should benefit them by season’s end.
Head Coach Brian Vorst, in his 11th year at Rossford, believes his team will play hard and be competitive.
“We return a ton of experience on our roster. We feel that we have good balance and strength,” said Vorst, who sees the Bulldogs competing well at the top of the conference.
“We have a very deep team. We will continue to push and improve over the course of the entire season and into the tourney,”
The uncertainty, however, lies with the team’s hope to replace great senior leadership from last year’s squad. The Bulldogs lost Ryan Niese at the point, Nate Childress, an inside presence, and the athletic defensive specialist, Hector Aguirre, to graduation.
Vorst admits that filling these voids will not be easy.
“One area of concern is replacing the great senior leadership that we had last season. This will be a challenge especially early in the season.”
To be successful, the Bulldogs will need to play well together, he noted.
“They need to trust each other and need to get comfortable.”
The comfort level is something that could affect all of the players initially.
“We are learning a lot of new stuff,” Vorst explained. “Everyone is learning and since the football guys just got here, we’re not quite there yet.”
Vorst indicated a need for changes in the team’s scheme after last year’s tournament loss to Wauseon.
“Some deficits were exposed last year against Wauseon, so we have had to cover those,” he acknowledged.
Key returners for the Bulldogs are seniors Ben Sauter, Jeff Hodak and Erik Davis. Sauter provides size and shooting on the perimeter while Hodak, at 6’7, should man the center position effectively. Davis provides athleticism on both ends of the court.
Juniors Matt Fuerst, Cota Sinclair and Jacob Perry will provide depth at the guard position, especially if Fuerst can fill the leadership void at point. Sinclair and Perry should be counted on for outside shooting.
While the Bulldogs return the most experienced team in åthe league, Vorst sees Elmwood as their greatest challenge–returning a lot of players from a competitive team last season, most of whom have two years of varsity experience.
Also, Eastwood traditionally fields a competitive, athletic team, and the Genoa Comets look to be considerably improved.
The Bulldogs opened the season at Fostoria and then traveled to Defiance to play a team that won last year’s Division II state championship. [see related story]
Rossford plays at home for the first time tonight, December 10 against Lake. The Flyers shared the title last year but have undergone significant change.
“We don’t know much about them yet,” Vorst said. “They have a new coach and a new cast of players.”
Regardless, the budding rivalry between Rossford and Lake will no doubt be an exciting start to the winter sports season.
Lady Bulldogs basketball program focuses on improvement, teamwork
By Michael Krieger
The Rossford girls varsity basketball team began the season with losses to two non-league games against two of the best teams in the area.
The girls lost to Oak Harbor 76-38 and then lost at Anthony Wayne, 67-32.
Senior Heather Schaller led the team with 11 points against Oak Harbor and senior Cheyenne Davis dropped 16 against Anthony Wayne.
Third year head coach Eric Simon said the Lady Bulldogs have a tough non-league schedule this season.
“I’m looking forward to getting into league play to see how we match up against those teams,” said Simon, who hopes to improve on the 8-15 record and fifth place league finish last year.
Right now, the girls are projected to finish fourth in the Northern Buckeye Conference, but should prove to be competitive against most opponents, relying on their size and rebounding.
“We have always been a guard-oriented team,” explained Simon, “but this year we are going to be more of a post-oriented team, so we will slow things down and play more on the half court.”
Davis and Schaller provide good size and inside scoring for Rossford, although Davis–who might be the team’s best shooter–will be expected to play outside more than in the past.
Both girls, along with Haley Gozdowski, should provide leadership and that inside presence that will be the team’s hallmark this season.
“The strength of this team will be their post play, but also their hard work and their ability to play as a team,” Simon added, admitting that this style will be a change from the past two years.
“We need to be about 0.500 in the league. We need to beat the teams we’re supposed to and will hope to surprise some of the others,” Simon said about their chances in the conference.
He pointed to the games against Lake and Woodmore as being important toward measuring the Bulldogs’ performance.
“Those are the teams in the league that should be closest to us, so they will be key games for us.”
Simon indicated that the girls will play hard and come ready to play every night.
Even though they lost the first two games by decisive margins, he believes they showed some good things and fans should see improvement every time.
Bulldog grapplers relying on young talent
By Michael Krieger
While the Rossford varsity wrestling team sets its sights on competing for a league title, third year Head Coach Randy Hussar believes that the young talent might prepare them for bigger goals by season’s end.
“We should be in the top four in the league,” Hussar said. “We have a lot of kids with the ability to make it to districts and even to state.”
One reason for his confidence is because the Bulldogs compete at the D-III level this year, which should give them an easier path through sectionals than in prior years spent at D-II where they were often faced with one of the toughest sectionals in the state.
The team’s quest for a league title might be more difficult than finding success for its individuals. Right now, the Bulldogs are 2-4 on the new season, but only sport a roster of 17 wrestlers.
“What we have is young but talented,” said Hussar, “but we are faced with a numbers issue. We need more wrestlers because we have had to drop weight classes during dual matches.”
Despite forfeiting some weight classes early on, Rossford has been competitive, losing close matches to perennial Northern Lakes League powers Anthony Wayne and Springfield.
They will look to improve throughout the year and to build off last year’s fifth place Northern Buckeye Conference finish.
That team produced two league champs as individuals in Casey Orr, who graduated, and sophomore Tanner Krotzer. Brandon Vasquez also qualified for district competition.
To improve in every match is the goal going forward, according to the coach.
“We have to keep working our technique and translating our effort in practice to the competitions. Our kids work very hard,” said Hussar, acknowledging it is due to longer practices and a renewed focus on weight training for athletes.
“We now lift every practice,” he added, noting that his team is definitely getting stronger.
Key returners for the team will be Krotzer, now a junior, who will wrestle at 113, and sophomores Austin Eick and Colton Fugate at 120 and 126 respectively. Junior Reed Jackson will provide some intensity at 138, and sophomore Ty Hussar will be a steady, aggressive performer at 145.
Sophomore Jacob Laplante will wrestle at 152 and share some time at that class with junior Joe Burlage, who also will bump up to 160, depending upon the team’s needs.
The lone senior on the roster, Mat Myers, will wrestle at 195 while Jacob Schimming and Vasquez return at 220 and 285 respectively.
Hussar admits some early surprises have come from newcomers.
Sophomore Casey Desmond used to wrestle in junior high and has experienced some early success in his first varsity season at the difficult class of 132.
Sophomore Hunter Smith is filling the 106 spot effectively after a year of JV competition, and move-in Shawn Encalado will gain some spot starts at 113. Although he had never wrestled, he is undefeated in competition so far this season.
Through their talented young wrestlers, Rossford hopes to challenge the league’s upper echelon and mature enough to make some noise in the sectional tournament by season’s end.
Either way, Hussar believes his team will be fun to watch. “They always give a good effort, and they are always ready to compete.”