Lehman Catholic is looking to start a new era better than it finished its last.
The Cavaliers went 1-9 in 2021 in the first season of the Three Rivers Conference and tied for last place. It was the final season for longtime coach Dick Roll, who retired as both the program’s coach and the school’s athletic director. He had served in both positions since 2006.
The squad qualified for the playoffs 11 times during Roll’s tenure but had struggled in recent years, including a 4-6 campaign in 2019 and a 3-3 campaign in 2020.
Chris Kash has taken over as the program’s coach and the school’s athletic director. He served as assistant athletic director at Lehman last year. Kash previously was an assistant coach for 22 years at various schools, including at Huber Height Wayne during its Div. I state runner-up campaign in 2010.
“We are looking to build upon the momentum achieved in the weight room this offseason,” Kash said. “Our 40 players are doing a good job of learning the new offense and defensive schemes.
“We hope to be more successful during our second season in the TRC. We will rely heavily upon our senior leadership and the returning starters on both sides of the ball.”
The Cavaliers have 11 returning upperclassmen letterwinners this year to lead their improvement efforts, all of whom start on one or both sides of the ball.
Returning at quarterback is junior Donovan O’Leary. He completed 48 percent of his passes last season for 1,454 yards with 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also ran for 471 yards and two TDs.
The squad’s top receiver graduated, but several players return, including junior Seth Knapke, who caught 13 passes for 181 yards. Also back are seniors Dylan Geise and Wyatt Earhart, who look to get more passes thrown their way this year. Newcomers Justin Chapman and James Larger also look to play at the position.
Seniors Nathan Sollmann and Hayden Sever return at running back. Sollmann ran for 352 yards on 91 carries last season and also caught 23 passes for 274 yards. Sever caught 16 passes for 174 yards and ran for 16 yards on eight carries.
Kash said the Cavaliers will use multiple formations on offense with a combination of power runs, outside runs and concept passing routes.
Juniors Will Ford, Ethan Stiver, Seth Kennedy and JD Barhorst return on the offensive and defensive lines. Stiver had 44.5 tackles and two sacks last year. Chapman and Larger both should see playing time at defensive end.
The squad lost its top linebacker and leading tackler. Senior AJ Newson looks to lead the linebacking corps this year; he had 37.5 tackles and two sacks last year.
Sever returns at defensive back. He had 52 tackles last year and recovered two fumbles. Sollmann and Geise also look to see time at DB, as does O’Leary. Geise led the squad with two interceptions.
Kash squad the squad will utilize a 4-2-5 scheme that penetrates the offensive line.
Assisting Kash at Lehman are Dwane Rowley, Nate Bollheimer, Trent Karn, Brian Sawyer, Dustin Snow and Joe Vondenhuevel. Dowley is assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Kash is the team’s offensive coordinator.
Riverside had a successful run in its first season in the TRC. The qualified for the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, advanced to a Div. VII regional semifinal, finished third in the eight-team TRC and finished 9-4 overall.
The Pirates are looking to keep up the success this year with six returning starters on offense and seven returning starters on defense.
“We have a lot of guys to replace but also bring a lot of guys back,” Riverside coach Bryce Hodge, who is entering his fourth season, said. “We have potential. We just need to keep getting better each day. I’m excited to see our returnees take the next step.”
The Pirates return junior quarterback Myles Platfoot, who is a three-year starter. He threw for a TRC-best 1,808 yards last year and completed 61 percent of his passes. Platfoot, who was a first team all-TRC selection, threw 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions and also ran for 592 yards and nine TDs.
Platfoot’s top two targets graduated, but one receiver returns in senior Simon Godwin. Godwin caught 12 passes for 165 yards and two TDs last year. Key newcomers who should get playing time at receiver include senior Tyler Knight, junior Dominik Stotler and sophomore Landon Purtee.
The team’s top running back returns in senior Warren Shockey. He ran for 1,334 yards and 24 TDs last season. Senior Walker Whitaker returns at fullback.
Senior Kaleb Schindewolf returns on the offensive and defensive line, as does junior Cody Craig and sophomore Travis Brooks. Schindewolf had 48.5 tackles last season while Craig had 25.
Whitaker, who made 30 tackles last year, will play at defensive end. Newcomer Nate Copas, a junior, will play at fullback and defensive end.
Two newcomers in juniors Ayden Phelps and Corwin Bell will play on the offensive and defensive line.
Seniors Skyler Hudson and Brayden Brandyberry return to lead the linebacking corps.
Hudson ranked third on the team with 67.5 tackles last year. He had a team-best three fumble recoveries and also intercepted one pass. Brandyberry made 59.5 tackles and recovered one fumble.
Godwin and Shockey return as defensive backs. Godwin made 43 tackles and intercepted three passes, one of which he returned for a TD. He also recovered one fumble. Shockey made 38.5 tackles.
Knight, Stotler and Purtee should see playing time at defensive back.
Hodge said Milton-Union is the favorite in the TRC this season. The Bulldogs won the league with a 7-0 record last year.
“They are the team to beat,” Hodge said. “They won last year and have a lot back.”
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.