The two county football teams outside the city limits of Sidney are both under new leadership this season, and one of them will be playing a new opponent when the season opens Friday night.
In Fort Loramie, there’s more than a little bit of irony in Whit Parks’ first game as head coach of the Fort Loramie Redskins coming against a team he coached for seven years.
Parks takes his first Loramie football team up against the Minster Wildcats Friday night at Minster, and it’s no small task for the Redskins. After all, Minster rolled to the Division VI state championship last season, beating unbeaten teams in their final two games.
“They’ve got all the weapons for sure,” said Parks. “There’s no real dropoff that I see. They’re fast and strong kids that can go up and get the ball. And I think you’d have a hard time finding a more accurate quarterback than (Josh) Nixon. We have to figure out a way to slow that down if we can.”
Nixon has a cannon arm and threw for an amazing 3,545 yards during his team’s 15-game season a year ago. He enters the season with 5,706 career passing yards, already a school record. And as Parks said, he is accurate — he hit 54 percent of his 429 attempts last season.
“They will challenge anyone with their passing game,” Parks said of the Wildcats. “They are really efficient at it, and Nixon is as good as anybody in this part of the state. He’s really something special. But they will try to be balanced. And they have a good defense, with their kids running to the ball well.”
The big question mark for Loramie is at quarterback. It wasn’t expected to be an issue, but Austin Siegel, a sophomore who was pegged as the starter over the summer, has been struggling with a nagging knee problem.
“We’re not sure where he’s at yet,” said Parks. “I don’t think it’s a serious injury. Just a nagging kind of thing. He threw the ball real well in our first scrimmage.”
Meanwhile, Anna has a new head man in Nick Marino, and a new opening-night opponent in Arlington.
For the new coach, the process of building his program continues.
“We are improving,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever be where we want to be, but our offensive line is developing and our receivers are playing well. We just need to improve our tackling. That’s been a major emphasis this week.
“We’re learning to grind every day in practice,” added Marino. “We’re learning what a really good football team needs to do. From where we’re at to where we need to be, consistent improvement is going to be really important.”
He says Arlington is a football team with excellent tradition.
“It’s a pretty good football team coming to town. Last year they made it to the third round of the playoffs (Division 7),” Marino said. “They run a spread offense with a lot of blitzing out of their defense.”
Arlington was 11-2 overall last season and graduated 12 seniors. The Red Devils have reached the postseason the last three seasons.
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818.