By ROB HAMILTON
The Northmor Knights turned the corner last year under B.J. Trainer. While the coach, entering his sixth year as the head of the program, has an overall record of 13-37, he earned nearly half of those wins last year as the Knights posted a 6-4 record.
Now, the challenge will be to maintain and improve on that sort of performance moving forward. Making that a challenge will be the loss of a large senior class. Lane Foster, Mason Jardon, Trevor Pryor, Mitchell Whisler, Andrew Fissell, Austin Yeater, Brice Trimble, Kameron Smith, Lucas Earhart, Korbyn Huston, James Ross and Devin McIe all graduated, leaving the coach with a number of holes to fill.
“We will be very young and do not have the experience of a lot of other teams,” he said. “Our depth may also create some problems if there are any injuries.”
The coach does have a number of letterwinning returnees to help ease the loss of those graduates. Aaron Vitte, Jake Farley, Jordan Wiseman, Demetrius Johnson, Gunnar Lilly, Kaleb Williams, Brayden Erhard, Jacob Walker, Ben Singer and Frank Keller are back. Unsurprisingly, Trainer will be looking at some of those athletes to provide leadership.
“We are going to rely heavily on our athletes that have ‘heavy’ in-game experience,” he said. “Those athletes are Jake Farley, Gunnar Lilly, Jacob Walker, Brayden Erhard, Kaleb Williams, Frank Keller and Jordan Wiseman. We also have several new faces that we expect to contribute.”
Trainer noted that those athletes have set a good example as far as creating a good work ethic for his team.
“The athletes have a familiarity with our offense,” he said, in discussing team strengths. “They have put in additional time in the weight room in the offseason, have improved their speed and are working hard at executing our offense and defense.”
For his team to improve record-wise, Trainer said they need to work towards improving in all facets of the game.
“As a team, we are looking to improve in a number of areas, including knowledge of fundamentals, execution of game plan, team strength, competitiveness and continuing to improve our program’s standing in the MOAC,” he said. “We must control the ball, eliminate turnovers, minimize mental mistakes and develop a desire to succeed.”
Being able to do those things consistently will be key, as the coach looks at the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference’s Blue Division as a place where many teams will have a shot at a title.
“The Blue Division will be very competitive this year,” he said. “I believe that Highland, a perennially successful team, will be very tough. Centerburg and Fredericktown have obviously established themselves with playoff pedigrees. Finally, I believe that Mount Gilead will be very tough as they return a number of very talented players from a year ago.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS