The Delta football team has 17 letter winners returning to help offset the 11 they lost to graduation, which should help them be a better team in 2017.
“We have a great group of seniors who are showing excellent leadership right now. But, overall we are young and inexperienced,” said head coach Jeff Wolford, who is entering his third season at the helm. “We just want to get better each week and this past summer was our best year for summer lifting and conditioning we have had. So we will be a stronger team than in the past. We have a brutal first five games but if we keep improving we can win any of them. Our goal is to take it one game at a time and improve each day. If we do that we should have a competitive team.”
Returning for the Panthers is Dustin Cowden who was second team All-NWOAL on the offensive line a year ago. They also get back honorable mention all-league performers Jason Beverly (DB/QB), Bowen Green (DT/TE), Elliot Schneider (TE/LB) and Nate Kohlhofer (T/DT).
Other returning letter winners are Tyson Cameron (RB/DB), Travis Dunning (RB), Dylan Rogers (FB/LB), Logan Echler (RB/LB), JD Osborn (G/LB), Dalton Richard (C/DT), Logan Albring (K), Tristan Saeger (RB/DB), Jose Arroyo (OT/DT) and Dawson Swicegood (DB/QB).
Wolford likes the makeup of his team, stating that they have great work ethic, are coachable, and they work together.
In addition, he is encouraged about the younger players on the roster.
“Our freshman class has a lot of great talent,” said Wolford. “We need to keep them together, and the seniors are doing a great job of teaching them. So the future looks bright.”
Among those newcomers who have a chance at contributing are sophomores Hunter Tresnan-Reighard, Brian Prezporia and Chase Cooper.
However, the Panther coach would like to have even more experience on the roster, despite having some decent numbers.
“Depth and numbers,” said Wolford when talking about his team’s biggest weakness going into the season. “We do have 49 out so far (and) that is a huge improvement, but still not where I want it to be.”
Wolford sees two teams at the forefront in terms of the league race, but expects others to compete as well.
“I see Liberty Center and Wauseon as the two favorites to win it all,” he said of the NWOAL. “Next I would think that Bryan will be right up there. They are headed in the right direction and they have great numbers and facilities. Patrick Henry will be good also. Then you have everyone else fighting it out. Anyone can beat anyone after the top three or four teams. Should be a interesting year once again.”
The Panthers finished 2-8 overall and 1-6 in league play last season, but with many key players back, look for them to improve on that mark this season.
Delta is at McComb this Friday, back on the road at Rogers Sept. 1, and hosts Tinora Sept. 8 in the first three weeks of the season. They open up NWOAL play on Sept. 15 at defending league champion Patrick Henry.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010