The Evergreen football team has gone 4-6 in each of the last two seasons under coach Aaron Schmidt, not bad for someone who was a first-time head coach going into the 2017 campaign. Fast forward two years, behind an off-season of reflection and learning, the Vikings will look to break through in 2019.
“I’m really excited about the season. We’ve put a lot of work in,” said Schmidt. “The coaching staff has put a lot of work in in the offseason to get gameplans, and offensive and defensive schemes prepared. I’m really excited to see how those translate. To see how that hard work can kind of pay off here for us.”
On offense they have condensed things, allowing their athletes to play faster and not think so much.
“We are changing a little bit of what we’re doing..in essence. We are keeping all of our terminology the same,” explained Schmidt. “We’ve been able to translate everything from one (offense) to another. But the big thing really is, was to simplify. We really end up having less blocking schemes than we did last year. I think, to be honest, we were too complex in the past with some of the things that we were trying to do.”
A big help with implementing the changes has been offensive line coach and former Viking head man Bob Beemer.
“He is a film rat,” said Schmidt of Beemer. “He’s calling me all hours of the day and night. Getting me to think about things. And he’s thinking about things. He has really done a good job of breaking all of our plays down to just a couple basic blocking schemes.
“We can run a lot of the stuff with one blocking scheme. We can run five or six different plays.”
Offensively for the Vikings, this season it will all start with senior signal caller Jack Etue. He threw for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns a season ago, good enough for honorable mention All-Northwest Ohio Athletic League honors.
“I think we are gonna utilize his athleticism a little bit more this year. Try and get him out on the perimeter,” said Schmidt of his quarterback. “He’s a great athlete. We just didn’t have to (use his running abilities) last year.”
The Vikings will also have a three-headed monster in the back field as Jack Krispin, Trent Coopshaw and Brian Floyd return. They were each honorable mention all-league last season.
Coopshaw returns after 73 carries for 299 yards and five TDs during the 2018 season. Krispin had 13 receptions for 188 yards and two scores, while also recording 64 tackles on the defensive side.
Opening up holes for their playmakers is a talented, albeit young, offensive line.
“Our offensive line is big and strong,” said Schmidt. “They’ve really worked hard in the offseason and I’ve been really pleased with the progress we’ve made there. We lost four starters last year. And most of those guys had started for a handful of years. These guys are stepping right in and really stepping up. Taking advantage of the opportunity.”
A pair of seniors, Will Smithmyer and Nick Beemer, will anchor the unit.
“Will Smithmyer and Nick Beemer are just two giant humans,” noted Schmidt. “And they’re great leaders too. Will plays with a fire that is just contagious. The guys gravitate toward him and he’s definitely stepped up as a vocal leader.”
Beemer moves down from tight end to help out the line this season. “Those guys (Smithmyer and Beemer) will be moving all over the place on the offensive line. Just depending on what kind of defense we are gonna see,” said Schmidt.
Defensively, the Vikings are switching to a 4-3 base from last year’s 4-2-5. They will be mostly running Cover 2 or Cover 4 in the secondary.
Schmidt also said that nine players will be playing on both sides of the ball, including Etue who will see time at safety.
Evergreen will need to replace a few impact players as well. Gone are Chandler Lumbrezer (first team all-league offense, second team all-district), Hunter Vanwert (second team all-league offense, honorable mention all-district), Bryce Hudik (second team all-league defense), Jack Worline (honorable mention all-league), Colten Pawlaczyk (honorable mention all-league), Dave Carroll (honorable mention all-league), Isaac Yunker (honorable mention all-league) and Bryce Eisel (honorable mention all-league).
They also lose Zach Lumbrezer who was second team all-league on the special teams side.
“Our team will have every opportunity to be successful this season if the kids take to the coaching and build upon an improved team last year,” stated Schmidt. “Our seniors need to step up and be leaders, and our underclassmen need to follow. This group of kids has the potential to be as good as they want and work to be.”
Evergreen opens the season by hosting Otsego – a team they haven’t beaten since 2015 – Friday night. They finish the non-league slate with a game at Montpelier (Sept. 6) followed by a home bout with Ridgemont (Sept. 13).
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010