SIDNEY — It may not quite be 2020 yet, but preparations for next year’s football season are already underway for most of the area’s football teams.
The days of long layoffs between seasons are long gone. The OHSAA mandates a no-contact period between coaches and players for all sports for about a month after each season ends.
Once that month ends for football teams, the weight rooms are opened and training begins for the following year.
“The number one focus of your offseason is physically and mentally getting your guys better,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “I think the physical part of getting guys ready is something we’ve made tremendous strides in during the last four or five years. Now, I think we have to work more on the mental aspect of handling yourself in game situations.”
Sidney is already looking toward 2020 and will aim to have a better campaign than last season, in which it finished 3-7 after losing four games by eight points or less.
Sidney’s season had an odd trajectory, as its first two and last two games were close losses and the middle six games had a variety of results. Among the odd results in the middle of the year was a 49-25 victory at West Carrollton, which came two weeks after the Pirates beat Piqua. That victory came four weeks after Sidney suffered its worst loss of the season in a 29-0 defeat at Piqua.
Most of Sidney’s games were close, though. Seven of the team’s games were decided by 12 points or less, with six being decided by eight points or less. The team’s first two and last two games were all losses that came within an eight-point margin.
“We went 2-4 in games decided by a touchdown, and the two previous years, we were 6-1,” Doenges said. “That’s what the offseason is for, trying to figure out why stuff like that happens. Did we do something different, do we need to change something to get over that hump?
“With six of your 10 games being that close, it comes down to the small things. We’ve got to do some digging in the offseason to see what we need to do to put ourselves in a better position.”
Sidney was extremely young last season and had just 13 letterwinners back from a 5-5 campaign in 2018. That won’t be a concern next year.
“If everyone we had comes back out, we have a chance to have 20 or 21 lettermen back,” Doenges said. “They all played significant minutes on the varsity end.”
Among the key returnees is running back E.J. Davis, who was named first team all-MVL and second team all-Southwest district in Div. II. Davis had a breakout season and finished with 1,452 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns.
Other offensive returnees include junior quarterback Cedric Johnson, four of the team’s offensive lineman and several players who saw time at tight end and receiver. The team will also return several defensive starters, including defensive back Cam Vordemark and linebacker Devin Taborn.
“We’ve got some key parts coming back, and it all starts up front,” Doenges said. “When you’ve got four of your five offensive linemen coming back, that’s a great place to start.”
8 Sidney players earn all-MVL honors
Eight Sidney players earned all-MVL honors.
Sophomore running back E.J. Davis, senior linebacker Ryan Cagle and senior defensive back Darren Taborn were named first team. Senior wide receiver Lathan Jones, senior offensive linemen Nick Benshoff and Bryon Jones and senior defensive back Clay Carter were named second team. Sophomore offensive lineman Evan Kennedy was named honorable mention.
11 Fort Loramie players named 1st team all-CCC
Fort Loramie captured its second consecutive outright Cross County Conference title this year and had a good showing on the league’s all-conference teams. Eleven players were named first team, while two players were special mention.
Defensive end Drew Benazer, quarterback Collin Moore, wide receiver Nick Brandewie, defensive back Mark Seger, defensive back Damon Mescher, linebackers Noah Guillozet and Max Hoying, offensive linemen Blake Holthaus, Josh Pangilinan and Griffin Meyer and defensive lineman Mack Fortman were named first team. Mescher was also named the return specialist of the year.
Defensive back Hank Ruhenkamp was named special mention, as was defensive lineman Connor Raterman.
Anna ranked No. 4 in MaxPreps’ small schools rankings
MaxPreps released its national small school rankings on Tuesday and Anna finished No. 4 out of 50 ranked teams.
The Rockets, which won the Div. VI state championship earlier this month and became the first Shelby County team to win a title, beat out undefeated Div. V champ Kirtland (ranked No. 16) and Div. VII champ Marion Local (13-2, No. 40).
Anna (14-1) lost to the Flyers 17-14 in a Week 5 MAC game at Booster Field.
The rankings are for schools with enrollments of less than 1,000 students. Texas Div. II champion Trinity Christian was ranked No. 1.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.