By David Fong
SIDNEY — In less than two months, the Sidney High School football team will look to build upon one of the most successful seasons in program history.
The hard work that goes into achieving such a goal is in full swing.
The Yellow Jackets held some of their 10 summer camp days last week and will hold more next week. The Ohio High School Athletic Association allows each football team in Ohio 10 “camp days” — to be taken at each team’s discretion — before practice officially is allowed to begin July 30.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off one of the greatest seasons in school history. Sidney opened the season with seven victories and would rise as high as No. 4 in the Associated Press Division IV state rankings.
Sidney would finish the season 10-2 — the first time it won 10 games in a season since 1970 — and would qualify for the Division II playoffs, the first time the Yellow Jackets had reached the postseason since 1989. Sidney also set several offensive records, including points in a season (464) and yards in a season (5301).
In the playoffs, Sidney opened with a 46-33 win over Belmont in the regional quarterfinals before falling to Cincinnati LaSalle in the regional semifinals.
Sidney loses 18 seniors — including two Division I college players — to graduation, along with losing its starting quarterback, who transferred during the offseason.
Gone is running back Isaiah Bowser, who set more than a dozen school records during his storied career at Sidney. Bowser, who will play at Northwestern this fall, ran for 2,617 yards and 29 touchdowns while earning All-Ohio first team honors.
Also gone is defensive tackle Devan Rogers, who racked up 79 tackles to go along with one fumble recovery and one interception. Rogers, who joined Bowser in earning All-Ohio first team honors, will be playing at the University of Toledo this fall.
Finally, Sidney loses two-sport star Andre Gordon, who transferred to Huntington Prep to focus on his basketball career. As the Yellow Jackets’ starting quarterback last season, he accounted for nearly 5,000 yards in total offense and 63 touchdowns.
Despite all of those considerable losses, however, Sidney has been a program trending in the right direction for the past few years under head coach Adam Doenges.
After going a combined 0-20 in 2010 and 2011 — and losing games by an average score of 41.2 to 9.1 — Sidney went 4-6 in both 2012 and 2013, slipped and went 2-8 in 2014, then 6-4 in 2015 (it’s first winning season since 2003) and 4-6 in 2016 before its breakout season last year.
The Yellow Jackets will continue working toward building on last year’s success this summer through camp days and summer strength and conditioning workouts.
Contact David Fong at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong