Prep football preseason countdown: #14 WOODLAN WARRIORS

Woodlan coach Sherwood Haydock shouts instructions to his team from the sideline during Friday, November 17, 2017's game at Eastbrook. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)
Woodlan fans cheer on their team during 2017's Class 2A state title game against Southridge at Lucas Oil Stadium. (News-Sentinel file photo)

OUTLOOK

After putting together a 35-8 record over the past three seasons, and a school-record three straight seasons of 10 wins or more, the Warriors graduated most of their top players. Six first-team all-conference offensive players and one second-team pick have graduated.

The Warriors are always the most dangerous when they are not expected to do much and it’s time to reload. They still return four starters on offense and seven on defense.

“I’ve been through this long enough to know when you have a good senior class that has led you to victory — and this was a three-year class and you can’t replace those guys — but you’ve developed so many kids beneath them that they finally get their chance,” Woodlan coach Sherwood Haydock said. “These guys are ready to go, but they are no-names right now. Whatever hype we get right now is going to be based off what we did last year, and it’s going to be interesting to when that switches over to what we can do this year.”

The schedule is also much tougher with Leo on opening week and Ohio small-school state champion Marion Local for Week 2.

“We could easily be 0-2 and be just as good as we’ve ever been,” Haydock said. “We’re still going to have a dogfight with a few people.”

OFFENSE

All of the top producers graduated. Junior Ben Reidy gets first chance at starting quarterback behind what is always one of the area’s top offensive lines. All-conference picks Dane Castleman and Jacob Gerbers anchor the front wall with help from sophomore Cole Helmke, junior Jaden Keller and senior Jay Harrison. Keegan Jones and Sebastian Spieth will be the tight ends.

Reidy played in eight games last year, completing eight passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Reggie Blackmon is the top returning rusher after gaining 280 yards on 35 carries last year for three touchdowns. He also rushed for more than 1,500 yards on the junior varsity last year. Trevor Wallace will also get carries.

The receivers will be Isaac Meyer who switches from running back, where he carried 15 times for 69 yards and a touchdown last year. Senior Tyrayn Jones and junior Trevor Wallace will play on the other side. Wallace had seven catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns last year.

DEFENSE

The defense could be exceptional. Isaac Meyer made 93 tackles last year as a junior defensive lineman, and Sebastian Spieth was one of the area’s top linebackers last year as a junior with 175 tackles, including 11 for loss and five sacks. Castleman made 107 tackles, Jack Stuckey 82 (with two interceptions) and Dirk Herschberger 53 followed by Keegan Jones with 38 and Wallace with 23.

The front four will be Meyer, Keller, Gerbers and Castleman who is probably the area’s strongest player. The linebackers are Spieth, Keegan Jones and Herschberger, with Danny Herschberger and Trevor Wallace at cornerback and Tyrayn Jones and Jack Stuckey at safety.

There’s some talent here that hasn’t had much playing time yet behind last year’s dominating senior class. These players are anxious for their chance to show what they can do.

ABOUT THE WARRIORS

2017 record: 12-3

2017 storyline: The Warriors missed a chance at a third consecutive ACAC title, but they reached the Class 2A state championship game before losing to Southridge 15-14. Woodlan has had three-straight 10-plus win seasons and five winning seasons in a row.

Coach: Sherwood Haydock (55-29 in eighth season at school; 188-148 in 31st season overall)

KEY LOSSES

Donald Guerrant, WR (61 receptions, 942 yards, 8 TDs; 57 tackles, 4 TFL)

Jack Rhoades, RB (290 rushes, 2,164 yards, 26 TDs; 7 receptions, 127 yards, 2 TDs; 69 tackles, 3 INTs)

Justin Durkes, QB (164 of 265, 2,613 yards, 32 TDs, 16 INTs; 79 rushes, 369 yards, 7 TDs)

Amarion Hicks, DB/WR/RB (24 receptions, 311 yards, 4 TDs; 63 rushes, 536 yards, 6 TDs; 91 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 INT)

Ah’lan Howard, DB/WR (34 receptions, 667 yards, 11 TDs; 65 tackles, 4 INTs)

Aaron Hahn, WR/P (36 receptions, 641 yards, 7 TDs; 43.0 punt average)

Keyshawn White, DL (66 tackles, 12 TFL, 4.5 sacks)

THE COUNTDOWN

#15 Northrop Bruins

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