After barely missing the playoffs at 7-3 in 2018, Archbold, with a bevy of playmakers returning, is looking to make it back to the postseason this year.
“Although we lost some very good players from last year’s senior group, we are going to look to our returning 15 starters to lead the way for our team and help the newcomers to adjust to varsity football,” said head coach David Dominique of the season ahead. “Every week is going to be tough with our schedule so preparation is key and (we) must continually improve as the season progresses.”
Leading the charge on offense for the Blue Streaks is junior quarterback Brandon Taylor. He passed for 1,331 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, while also rushing for 424 yards and four scores. Taylor was honorable mention All-Northwest Ohio Athletic League as a sophomore.
Other returnees are Noah Gomez (second team All-NWOAL offense, honorable mention all-district), Brayden Hall, Antonio Cruz (second team All-NWOAL offense, honorable mention all-district), Isaiah Gomez (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Tony Grime (second team All-NWOAL defense, honorable mention all-district), Matthew Gladieux (second team All-NWOAL offense, second team all-district offense), Mason Babcock (second team All-NWOAL offense), Carson Meyer (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Elijah Zimmerman (second team All-NWOAL defense, second team all-district defense) and Caleb Hogrefe (honorable mention All-NWOAL).
Noah Gomez rushed for 738 yards and nine TDs, had 109 receiving yards, plus 27 tackles and two interceptions on defense a season ago. Cruz had 32 receptions for 436 yards and four scores, while Isaiah Gomez had 38 receptions for 378 yards and a pair of scores.
“A key strength of our team for this upcoming year is the experience returning at the skilled positions,” explained Dominique. “We return all but one starter in our offensive and defensive backfield so we will look for these guys to lead our team with the experience they gained last year.”
Defensively, Meyer paced the Streaks with 67 tackles a season ago. Zimmerman finished with 62 tackles and had two interceptions as well. Grime notched 21 tackles and four interceptions.
Looking to add depth to the roster are newcomers Josh Richer, Zoey Tuckerman, Biship Tuckerman, Spencer Short, Jacob Walters, Johnny Yoder, Shane Eicher, Adrian Juarez, Caleb Ranzau, DJ Newman, Cayden Alvarado, Jakob Beaverson and Zeke Miller.
The newcomers will try to help fill the void left from eight departed letter winners. The most notable loss is that of Kasyn Schaffner who was second team All-Ohio defense last season, along with being first team All-NWOAL and first team all-district. He registered 74 tackles during his senior campaign.
They also lose Aiden Warncke (second team All-NWOAL defense), Holden Galvan (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Izzy Reyes (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Zach Rocha (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Clay Nafziger (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Owen Roehrig, and LJ Tijerina.
Offensively with Rocha, the Streaks will miss his 420 rush yards and six TDs. Reyes had three TDs for the Streaks last season.
“Losing three starters on the offensive and defensive lines is a key weakness moving into the upcoming season,” said Dominique. “This was a main strength of our team last year so we must fill the roles of those lost to graduation.”
Archbold just missed the playoffs in 2018 after a three-game stretch during the season where they dropped games to Patrick Henry, Bryan and Liberty Center. Those teams should be near the top once again this season.
“The NWOAL is again going to be a very tough conference this year. I look for the defending league champions Patrick Henry to be at the top along with Bryan and Liberty Center,” said Dominique on the league race. “With that being said, I think a number of other teams return talented rosters that can compete in the top tier of this league. I look for each week to be a battle as the NWOAL will be well-balanced from top to bottom.”
Archbold is at Hicksville this Friday to begin the season.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010