Black Bears hope to take another stride

| August 22, 2013


River View High School 2013 Varsity Football

River View High School 2013 Varsity Football

WARSAW – Along with success come greater expectations but after a long drought from winning seasons, the River View High School football team welcomes those new demands.

The Black Bears experienced resurgence in 2012 under then-first year coach Josh Lahmers by finishing with a .500 record and a second place showing in the East Central Ohio League’s Grey Division.

Now they are hoping for even better times.

“It’s funny that when we held our senior meetings and talked to people in the community, we have suddenly gone from last year when there were no expectations to where the goals and expectations are a lot higher and the kids know that,” said Lahmers as he enters his second season.

“We went from one extreme to the other. This year we want everything as opposed to last year when we just wanted to be .500 and that’s part of the mentality that you need to have. To get there you have to believe you can get there
“The thing that has to happen is we need to put that on the field each week. My coaches talk to the kids about it being easier to be the ones who sneak up on people versus being the ones who people know that you’ve turned the program around and you have potential. Teams are going to prepare a little harder for you and we have to be ready for that.

“The early progress has been good. We’ve seen some improvement,” Lahmers said. “It’s just a matter of convincing them to take that to the next level. We’re moving in the right direction but we know there’s a lot of work ahead of us.”

The Black Bears broke a long string of losing seasons by compiling an overall record of 5-5, including a 4-1 mark in the Grey Division of the East Central Ohio League, good enough for second place behind Claymont.

The expectations are justifiable as the Black Bears return numerous players with valuable playing experience.

“We played a lot of these guys last year as freshmen, sophomores and juniors and to see where they went from this time last year to where they are now as a coach that’s the exciting part. We’ve seen them grow and we’ve seen them become better football players and better people.”

In terms of experience, River View’s primary offensive weapon is senior running back Brandon Adams who along with being a solid football player was a qualifier in sprinting events at the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s state track meet

He is joined in the backfield by senior Dylan Shepler at fullback and sophomores Jon Barker and Casey Turnbull at halfback. Calling the signals for the Gold and Black will be junior Zack Fouch. He replaces John Brillhart who was a four-year starter at quarterback.

“Brandon is definitely a weapon but the rest of the backfield is all new starters,” Lahmers said. “Zack is being thrown right into the fire but we’re happy with where he has progressed to.”

Senior M.J. Carey adds size, skill and speed to the tight end and/or split end position. Also likely to see ample action are juniors Briar Cox and Dalton Hammond.

Another aspect to be especially excited about is the group in the trenches, according to Lahmers.

“The offensive line is kind of our strength,” Lahmers said. “We have the potential to be pretty good but potential doesn’t mean anything in terms of wins and losses.”

Likely starters for the Black Bears O-Line are senior Tyler Triplett and junior Leland Lauvray at the tackles with juniors Brody Lanham and Tim Burris at the guards and Jake Matthews at center. Providing competition for the starters are sophomores Sam Vickers and Jon Helmick.

The defense returns several players who at the end of the 2012 season were receiving significant playing time as sophomores and juniors.

Along the line, it will likely be seniors Blake McKee and Nate Smith at the ends with Josh Kempf and Carey at tackle. Also competing for playing time will be Mathews and Lanham.

At inside linebacker it will be Shepler along with sophomores Josh Bigrigg and Tyler Watson. The outside linebackers will be Adams and Barker.

A big loss through graduation was safety Josh Knight but Lahmers is counting upon Turnbull and Cox to replace him. Cornerbacks will be senior Eric Hampton and Hammond. Fouch could also see some action as added depth.

The kicking duties will be handled by Smith while Bigrigg will punt. Adams will be the key return man.

The Black Bears open the season on Friday, Aug. 30, at Danville while their home opener will take place on Friday, Sept. 6, against West Holmes in the battle of the Black and Blue. River View then travels to Ridgewood, Lahmers’ alma mater, in week three.

The ECOL opener will be Friday, Oct. 4, at Don Rushing Stadium against Meadowbrook.

“We have a very tough non-league schedule. They’re all ridiculous,” Lahmers said. “Every turn we’re up against it right out of the gate.
Danville and West Holmes were both regional qualifiers a year ago and Maysville was 9-1 in the regular season and made the playoffs. Ridgewood finished at 6-4 last year but presents a unique challenge as the Black Bears travel to West Lafayette for that game.

“We’re trying to build that tradition and pride and it starts by defending our home field and anyone who comes here is going to have to work for it and earn it,” Lahmers said. “We’ve started to see as a staff guys willing to put in that time and put in that effort and hopefully it becomes more contagious each year.

“Part of it is buying in to the program but another part is having trust in the coaches and trust the decision that we make is best decision for them. That’s why we’re here. If you do everything correctly and do it together as a unit you have a much better chance of being successful.”

This story was contributed to The Beacon by Jim Barstow.


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  1. Shepler & Barker are juniors; Brodie Lanham is senior