Oak Glen Filled With Youth, Experience
By ANDREW GRIMM
NEW MANCHESTER — The Oak Glen Golden Bears finished 2-8 last season, dropping each of the last six games of the season after a 2-2 start.
The culprit for that may just be the reason Ted Arneault’s team takes a step forward this season — young players. The Golden Bears have the majority of everybody back from 2017 and, while still youthful, they now have experience.
“I think the kids that we have on the roster have a lot of Friday night experience,” Arneault said. “We’re still young but experienced, so it is kind of like the best of both worlds. That is something that is going to pay off big time because that is something that you just cannot replace with anything else.
“We’re returning almost every starter. Having kids back that have been out on the field on Friday nights is going to help dramatically.”
In addition to some added experience, Arneault likes some other aspects of his team.
“I think we have some really good team speed,” he said. “We’ve got some playmakers and some big receivers to throw the ball to. We’ll be a fast team defensively, too.”
Arneault, heading into his third season with the Golden Bears as head coach, hopes his team’s speed can help with the size disadvantage it will have against a lot of its opponents.
“We grew a little bit, but we are still not going to be a very big team,” Arneault said. “Outside of our bigger receivers, we’ve got a lot of smaller kids with speed.”
After going 4-16 over the last two seasons, Arneault wants to see the program take a step forward.
“We have expectations to compete in every game that we play this year,” he said. “Our goals are to continue to evolve culture here, respond to adversity, match physicality, focus on discipline and make sure we are doing the right things. We want to refine things.
“We are hoping a lot of the little things getting better will equal to some big results.”
Sophomore Nick Chaney returns as the starting quarterback. He threw for 1,593 yards, while completing 102 of 242 (42.2 percent) passes for 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a freshman in 2017. Also getting reps at QB have been Brayden Mineard, another sophomore, as well as few freshmen.
Before last season began, Hunter Skeeles and Chaney were the Golden Bears’ two QBs that would see equal amount of opportunities. However, Skeeles broke his arm in the season opener against Weir, setting the table for Chaney.
“With Skeeles sidelined for the season, Chaney will have to learn quickly,”Arneault said before Oak Glen’s Week 2 battle at Steubenville Catholic. “For a young kid, Chaney is eager and ready to learn the intricacies of the game. He keeps talking to the coaches about correcting mistakes and is very motivated.”
Arneault feels the same way to this day.
“We’re running the same offense and finding our groove,” Arneault said. “We were able to put some points on the board last year.”
At tailback, sophomore Gage Patterson is expected to get a lot of work along with juniors Preston Brown and Ethan Mick. Paxton Shuman, a sophomore, will line up at fullback.
Catching passes will be senior tight end Ethan Travis, a 6-foot-5 returning starter who made 29 catches for 563 yards and four touchdowns last season.
“He’s gotten a lot more physical and, I think, gotten a lot stronger since last year,” Arneault said.
Wideouts will be junior Zack Taylor, Michael Lemley, Mineard and Hunter Patterson among others.
Up front the offensive line, senior Kellen Tropeck, a state champion in discus, returns along with fellow senior Logan Meadows. Ohters in the running are junior Connor Adams, sophomores Jeremy Taylor, Matthew Mallick, Danny Bealles, Kyle O’Connor and Ethan Hooker.
On the defensive front, the Golden Bears have senior Cole English, Tropeck, Meadows and O’Connor. Oak Glen will use a three-man line in 2018.
The linebacking corp will be made up of Brown, Adams, Bealles, Patterson and Mick.
Lemley returns at free safety and Mineard at corner, while senior Jackson Chaney and junior Jacob Jones will compete for the other starting corner position.
The Golden Bears will use a 3-3 stack look on defense, where Arneault wants to see run defense and tackling get better.
“The emphasis is on our run defense,” he said. “We need to improve there dramatically, there and tackling. We want to be more aggressive getting to the football.”
Dan Dewoskin, a senior, will handle kicking and punting duties.
Oak Glen opens its campaign very similar to last year, at least for the first three weeks. Weir will host the Golden Bears in the season opener, which was a shutout victory for the Red Riders last year. In Week 2, the Bears compete in their home opener against Steubenville Catholic Central before traveling to Buckeye Local.
After a Week 5 bye is when things turned for the worse with six straight defeats a season ago.
“Expectations are higher this year,” Arneault said. “We’re a young team that should be able to compete.”