The Evergreen football program has steadily improved under the direction of now fourth-year coach Paul Amstutz. They were 0-10 in his first season in 2013, 2-8 in 2014, and 5-5 last season.
The Vikings hope that trend continues and they can get above the .500 mark in 2016.
Although they did lose six letter winners off last year’s squad, there is a lot to like about the current group.
“One of our biggest strengths is that we have a lot of speed across the board on both offense and defense,” said Amstutz. “The number of players out for football has increased from last season and all of the boys have worked very hard to this point (in) time and have done a great job coming together as a team.
“With our team speed we will be able to compete in each and every game we play. If we are able to stay healthy on both sides of the ball we will be able to surprise some teams throughout the season.”
A total of eight letter winners are back for Evergreen. Returning are Jon Milliken, Tyler Noe (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Grant Donnald (honorable mention All-NWOAL), Bryce Eisel, Colten Pawlaczyk, Mike Pupos, Free Canales and Nate Krohn.
But, the Vikings will have to replace six letter winners who received many accolades for last year’s squad.
Letter winners lost to graduation include quarterback Nick Etue (second team all-league, honorable mention all-district), Tyler Coopshaw (second team all-league), Dylan Komisarek (honorable mention all-league), Josh Laux (first team all-league, second team all-district), Ian Seabolt (honorable mention all-league) and Sam Williamson (second team all-league).
“The biggest weakness for this season is our lack of experience,” said Amstutz. “We have a lot of young guys on our roster (only have 15 juniors and seniors combined), so getting the young players ready for the speed of the varsity level will be our biggest obstacle.”
The Vikings do have five newcomers who look to help the team in any way they can. Those new additions are David Carroll, Hunter Van Wert, Hunter Svoboda, Isaac Yunker, and Shane Call.
Amstutz views the NWOAL as a close battle, but a few teams stand out in his mind.
“This year the league could go anyway with all of the seniors that were lost throughout the league,” he said. “There are a few teams that will have the upper hand as the season begins but in the end the league champion will likely have one or two losses. With all of this being said my order for the top four are as follows: 1. Wauseon, 2. Swanton, 3. Liberty Center, 4. Patrick Henry, with the other teams having the ability to make a move for the top as well.”
Evergreen travels to Otsego Friday to begin the season
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010