Bulldogs aim to maintain success


It will be difficult to duplicate the success of the last three seasons, however, the Swanton Bulldog football program will give it their best shot.

The Bulldogs are coming off three straight winning seasons, a Northwest Ohio Athletic League title in 2015, and playoff wins in each of the past two seasons.

That success came under the direction of former coach Mike Vicars who stepped down in March. He remains with the district as its Director of Student Services.

The program is now left in the hands of Randy Kerns, who was approved as the Bulldogs’ coach in May. Kerns is optimistic heading into his first season at the helm.

“Even with a new coaching staff, and mass graduation that included two D-I signees, this is still a talented football team,” he said. “Numbers have improved, and there’s an established, energetic, winning culture. Our season will depend on some talented, but inexperienced players stepping into varsity roles and performing well. This team can potentially be contending for the top of the NWOAL again. Our goal is to return to the postseason in Division V.”

Swanton returns five starters on offense and five on defense.

One of their primary returnees is Michael Lawniczak, a second team All-NWOAL and second team all-district running back from a year ago. He is someone who coach Kerns thinks can be the top player in the league this season.

Another notable returnee is lineman Lukas Reiner (first team All-NWOAL), someone Kerns says has “loads of talent.” The Bulldogs also get back honorable mention all-league performers Gage Pachlhofer (RB/DB), Xavier Williams (OL/LB) and Zack Leahey (RB/DL).

Crew Oberheim is a returning tight end and linebacker for the Dogs.

However, they did lose a lot to graduation, including five players who received All-Ohio honors. Highlighting that list were wide receiver Gunnar Oakes and defensive lineman Zach Dziengelewski who both were named first team all-state at their respective positions.

They both received scholarships to play at the Division I level, Oakes at Eastern Michigan and Dziengelewski at Bowling Green. Other all-state players gone via graduation are kicker Nick Koback who made the second team, as well as Aaron Hazlett and Jonathan Shanks who were special mention.

They will also be without Marek Spiess (second team All-NWOAL, second team all-district), Tim Rankin (second team All-NWOAL, honorable mention all-district), Ben Burke (second team All-NWOAL, second team all-district), Connor Yaney (second team All-NWOAL), Brennan Spiess (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Cam Hitchen (honorable mention All-NWOAL) and Chase Avalos (honorable mention All-NWOAL).

Strengths for the team are a talented defensive front, good leadership, and a physical running game with the return of Lawniczak.

“Winning culture is implanted off back-to-back playoff appearances,” added Kerns.

Another positive is that they will be running the Wing T again this season, which is the same offense Vicars used. On defense they will run a 3-4.

The coach does have some concerns heading into the season.

“Must find other playmakers on offense (other than Lawniczak),” he said. “Talented but inexperienced at some positions because of transfers out of program.”

He particularly mentioned the loss of their quarterback and some defensive backs as well.

Although Kerns is new to the program and the league, he still has the confidence to pick them to finish third behind Liberty Center and Wauseon.

Swanton is at Richwood North Union Friday, followed by a trip to Start Sept. 1, and then home against Rogers on Sept. 8 to close out non-league competition. They open NWOAL play at Bryan on Sept. 15.

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With some key players back, Swanton football has a chance to have a good season in the first year under new head coach Randy Kerns.
With some key players back, Swanton football has a chance to have a good season in the first year under new head coach Randy Kerns. Photo courtesy Rose Photography

Swanton returns 21 letter winners for the upcoming season.
Swanton returns 21 letter winners for the upcoming season. Max Householder | Fulton County Expositor

The 2017 Swanton coaching staff.
The 2017 Swanton coaching staff. Max Householder | Fulton County Expositor

By Max Householder

mhouseholder@aimmediamidwest.com

2017 Roster

No.

Name

Grade

Position

18

Crew Oberheim

12

TE/LB

5

Zach Rankin

12

RB/DB

62

Lukas Reiner

12

OL/DL

32

Zack Leahey

12

RB/DL

87

Reece Pawlowicz

12

WR/LB

51

Josh Kohlhofer

12

OL/DL

10

Anthony Howard

12

WR/DB

61

Dustin Sego

12

OL/DL

68

Ethan Frost

12

OL/DL

60

Hunter Albert

12

OL/LB

76

Isaac Thomas

12

OL/DL

9

Gage Pachlhofer

12

RB/DB

55

Greg Wilson

12

OL/DL

36

Noah Saunders

12

RB/DB

2

Dylan Cook

12

RB/DB

24

Hunter Mix

11

RB/LB

19

Kodi Jones

11

TE/LB

22

Dylan Gilsdorf

11

QB/DB

23

Michael Lawniczak

11

RB/LB

34

Ryan Marvin

11

RB/LB

35

Zack Zawodni

11

RB/LB

50

Derek Floyd

11

OL/DL

43

Zaven Waddell

11

RB/LB

56

Xavier Williams

11

OL/LB

45

Brad Parks

11

RB/DB

75

Nathan Duarte

11

OL/DL

7

Roman Epley

11

RB/DB

N/A

John Townes

11

OL/DL

30

Sam Sledz

10

WR/DB

20

Austin Hayden

10

TE/LB

28

Xavier Wiemken

10

RB/LB

33

Tyler Gowing

10

RB/LB

66

Damien Boyer

10

OL/LB

81

Jake Crow

10

OL/DL

44

Brendan Keith

10

RB/LB

1

Josh Vance

9

WR/DB

82

Josh Townes

9

TE/LB

12

Andrew Thornton

9

QB/DB

38

Blaine Pawlowicz

9

WR/DB

52

Connor Cass

9

OL/DL

6

Devon Crouse

9

WR/DB

57

Eric Bettinger

9

OL/LB

3

Trent Weigel

9

WR/DB

16

Kadin Keivens

9

WR/DB

58

Anthony Duarte

9

OL/DL

70

Sam Dominique

9

OL/DL

4

Zeth Zawodni

9

RB/DB

71

Jacob Campbell

9

OL/DL

21

Ian Saunders

9

RB/DB

42

Gabe Swartz

9

TE/LB

Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010

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