The West Branch Warriors started the 2012 season with an 0-3 mark allowing their opponents to score an average of 41.7 points per game. Over the final seven weeks of the year, the Warriors won six and permitted just 18.1 points per game en route to their first Northeastern Buckeye Conference title since 1999. During the aforementioned streak, West Branch won four road games including their week nine triumph over playoff-bound Marlington (35-14).
The Warriors enter 2013 without the school’s all-time rusher Brenden Wells (3,747 yards) and tackler Bo Utley (127 in 2012), as well as, their signal caller Troy James (622 passing yards, 641 rushing yards).
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Coach D.J. Dota begins his third season in Beloit with a trip to Mantua on Friday, August 30 to take on Crestwood.
2013 West Branch Warriors’ Football Preview
By Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: D.J. Dota, 3rd season (10-10) at West Branch
2012 Record: 6-4 (6-1), Northeastern Buckeye Conference
2012 Post-Season Finish: Did Not Qualify
2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 28.6 (19th in Area)
Passing Yards: 68.8 (688)
Rushing Yards: 271.1 (2711)
Points Allowed: 24.6 (39th in Area)
Passing Yards Allowed: 140.6 (1406)
Rushing Yards Allowed: 230.6 (2306)
Rushing: Logan Nagy – 72 att, 296 yards, 3 TDs
Receiving: Kip DeShields – 16 rec, 306 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Mason Hughes – 60
Quarterback Sacks: Jake Evanoff, 1.0
Interceptions: Mason Hughes – 1
Aug. 30 – at Crestwood, 7 PM
Sept. 6 – Crestview, 7 PM
Sept. 13 – at Niles, 7 PM
Sept. 20 – Marlington, 7 PM
Sept. 27 – at Canton South, 7 PM
Oct. 4 – Louisville, 7 PM
Oct. 11 – Carrollton, 7 PM
Oct. 18 – at Alliance, 7 PM
Oct. 25 – Minerva, 7 PM
Nov. 1 – at Salem, 7 PM
Offensive Strength: Despite the loss of Tyler Pidgeon (15 catches) and Kenny Faulkner (8.8 ypr), the receivers who the Warriors have returning should bring back experience and talent. Kip DeShields led the team in receptions (16), yards (306) and touchdown catches (4). Jeff Vizzuso snagged 3 passes for an average of 23.7 stripes.
Offensive Weakness: Pick one or the other. The loss of the offensive workhorse Brenden Wells will take some to recover from. Wells gained 1,432 yards rushing a year ago. He set the all-time career mark at West Branch in rushing yards (3,747) and touchdowns (44). Troy James meant more than his numbers would indicate from the quarterback position (2012: 622 yards, 6 TDs, 46%). James has been playing quarterback on the varsity level since he was a freshman.
Defensive Strength: Up front, the Warriors return seniors Logan Sharp (11.5 tackles, 0.5 sacks) and Steven Sosnick (49 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss). The defense forced 15 turnovers (4 interceptions/11 fumbles) last fall.
Defensive Weakness: Depth will be an issue. West Branch lost seven of their top eight tacklers. Also, those players who were in on 18 of the 20.5 team quarterback sacks a year ago will not be back in 2013.
Storylines Facing the Warriors
1. Defensive Improvement. Despite a solid second half of the season by the defensive unit, there is room for improvement in 2013. Over the course of the last four years, West Branch has allowed their opponents to tally 1173 points (29.3). Just last year, the Warriors gave up an average of 355.3 yards per contest.
2. Who is the Quarterback? With the departure of Troy James, who will fill the role as the team’s quarterback? Last season, junior Corey Snyder threw one pass.
3. Impact of Dota. Since DJ Dota took over the Warriors in 2011, there has been an impact felt through the West Branch program. In 2010, the Warriors were 1-9 overall and 0-7 in the league. In his first season, West Branch won 4 games (3-4 NBC). Last year, they won the league crown. Look at the scoring numbers: In 2010, West Branch allowed 31.2 points and posted just a 16.4 average. This past season, they held the opposition to 24.6 and racked up 28.6 points.
Did you know? Brenden Wells carried the football 440 times for 2,798 yards over his final two seasons at West Branch.