Archbold football has won at least a share of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title in each of the past three seasons, and they hope that trend continues in 2022.
Although the 2021 ended earlier than they would have liked, when looking back head coach David Dominique can’t help but be pleased with the success they enjoyed.
“Looking back at last year, it was a successful year for our program. We were able to finish 12-1 on the season and win an NWOAL championship,” said Dominique. “Although we had a tough loss in the playoffs to a good Liberty Center team, our young men played hard week in and week out and as a coach that is all you can ask for.”
While yes the Blue Streaks did suffer some key losses to graduation, they still return some key pieces — especially along the offensive and defensive lines.
On offense Archbold will look to the men up front to pave the way.
“We are going to need our offensive line to really take that next step this year and control the line of scrimmage completely,” explained Dominique. “We will lack experience at some skill positions so until they get up to speed we need our front five to really dominate up front. We showed flashes of this last year at times but need to be more consistent in these regards.”
Offensive starters returning for the Streaks include Devon Morris (TE), Hayden Dickman (T), Carson Dominique (RB), Karter Behnfeldt (WR), Brian Burrowes (C), Mason Siegel (T) and Wyat Ripke (G).
Other returning letter winners include Cade Brenner (QB/FS), Kaleb Gigax (WR/DB), Chase Cornell (G/DE), Josiah Gomez (RB/LB), Lucas Dominique (WR/DB), Nathan Juarez (WR/DB), Titus Rufenacht (T/DT), Seth Forth (G/DT) and Brodie Bailey (TE/DE).
“Our main offensive strength will be our offensive line,” noted Coach Dominique. “We return five starters from last year along the line so we are going to really rely on them to get us going while we get our new starters up to speed. We also return our starting RB in Carson Dominique who will be a key component to our offense much like last year. As a whole on offense, we will have very good team speed across the board which we must utilize to our advantage.”
However, the Streaks lose a bevy of talented players from last year’s offense, the biggest being quarterback DJ Newman (first team All-NWOAL/All-District, D-VI All-Ohio POY).
Also gone are wide receiver Gavin Bailey (first team All-NWOAL/All-District/All-Ohio), tight end Charlie Krieger (honorable mention all-league), and wide receiver Hunter Cullen-Lemley (honorable mention all-league).
“Our main concern on the offensive side of the ball will be at the skilled positions,” admitted Coach Dominique. “We lose a 3-year starting QB who was one of the most dynamic playmakers in the area along with a 1st Team All-State WR in Gavin Bailey. With that being said, we had a lot of wide receivers get time last year and expect them to fill the void lost at that position. At the QB position, we have two capable guys who can play at a high level but we are going to need to get them used to the speed and physicality of varsity football quickly in order for us to succeed.”
Returning starters on defense include Morris (DE), Jordan Massengill (DT), Lance Bauer (DT), Siegel (DE), Gabe Chapa (LB), Stephen Diller (SS), Jack Hurst (SS), Karter Behnfeldt (CB) and Chase Miller (CB).
“For us to be success defensively, we are going to need to think less and play faster this year,” said Dominique on keys for his squad’s defense. “Due to our youth, I felt like our guys were thinking too much so being a year older should help us in these regards. As the season progresses, we will need to continue to develop depth in all positions and if we can do this I think we can have a great year on the defensive side of the ball.”
The departure of linebacker Cayden Alvarado (first team All-NWOAL/All-District, honorable mention All-Ohio) will hurt the defense.
“Although we return 4 of 5 starters in the defensive backfield, we are going to have to rely on some less experienced individuals to fill the open voids,” said Dominique in regards to other weaknesses for his defense. “We lost two seniors who played a lot throughout the season at the DB (defensive back) position and provided vocal leadership of making the calls, so we are going to need someone to step up to fill that void. I think our younger guys were able to gain valuable experience as the year progressed but they are going to need to really get acclimated to varsity football quickly.”
On special teams Krayton Kern will handle the place kicking, kickoff, and punting duties. He was second team all-league and honorable mention all-district in 2021.
Furthermore, Chase Miller is back as a return man after being named second team all-league a season ago.
In terms of the NWOAL race, Archbold’s head coach knows that to repeat as champs will take a lot of work. Every league opponent will present a challenge.
“As a whole, I think the NWOAL will be very challenging this year,” he said. “I look for Liberty Center, Patrick Henry, and Wauseon to be towards the top of the league. They all return some key pieces to their teams and will be very tough to beat. I look for the rest of the league to be competitive as well so each week you must be ready to go in order to find success.”
Archbold hosts Genoa to start the season this Friday. They begin NWOAL play at home with Bryan on Friday, Sept. 9.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.