By Rob Kiser
SIDNEY — While the faces may change, the results in the Lehman football program have been consistent under football coach Richard Roll.
And while the Cavaliers were hit hard by losses to graduation after going 10-3 last season and advancing to the playoffs for the seventh time in nine years, the expectation hasn’t changed any for this year’s squad.
“You to have high goals and expectations,” Roll said.
Nick Rourke, who was a three-year starter who passed for 2,434 yards last season, completing 146 of 259 passes is going.
Senior Stephen Monnin (5-10, 160) will take over that role.
“It is his turn,” Roll said. “And I don’t say that because the position is being given to him. He has earned it. Stephen (Monnin) is an elusive runner and he is improving every day.”
More than 2,000 rushing yards graduate off of last year’s team in Rourke, Greg Spearman, Skylar Brown and Lane Monning — Spearman rushing for more than 1,000 and adding more than 600 receiving yards.
Sharing the role at running back will be juniors Jacob Earhart (5-9, 175) and Dylan Arnold (5-11, 150) and sophomore Owen Smith (5-10, 165).
Spearman and Mitch Slater combined for almost 1,500 yards receiving last year.
Stepping in at wide receiver/tight end will be sophomore Brandon Brandon Barhorst (5-9, 145). The split ends will be junior Jared Rourke (5-6, 120) and sophomores Kameron Lee (6-2, 175) and Braiden Sherman (6-0, 140).
The offensive line also had some tough losses, but returns three starters.
The center will be sophomore Collin Haller (5-10, 175), sophomore tackles Michael Bunker (6-5, 212) and Seth Sargent (6-3, 220).
The guards will be senior Clayton Malone (5-10, 200) and junior Wyatt Long (6-0, 170).
“The losses to graduation are always tough,” Roll said. “We lost some really good players. The offensive line is going to be a key.”
It is a similar story on defense.
Spearman and Skylar Brown combined for almost 200 tackles, while Ben Montgomery, Kris Lee and Clay Selsor added another 150 between them. Spearman also had four interceptions.
Inside on the defensive line in Lehman’s 3-4 alignment will be junior Christopher Shepard (6-4, 350).
On the outside will be Michael Bunker and junior Seth Brown (6-1, 175)
The inside linebackers will be Long and Earhart — who was the Cavaliers second leading tackler a year ago with 106.
The outside linebackers will include Dylan Arnold, senior Michael Largent (5-11, 170) and sophomore Logan Richard (5-11, 145).
The secondary will include Barhorst and Owen Smith at safety, with Rourke, Lee and Monnin — who led the team with five interceptions a year ago, all possibilities at corners.
The place-kicker will be senior Ian Smith (5-10, 165).
“Again, we had some big losses on defense and some guys are going to have to step,” Roll said.
The Cavaliers will be challenged right away in its opening two games.
“Bad scheduling by the athletic director (Roll),” Roll said with a laugh. “Fort Recovery is a good football team and Minster is the defending state champions.”
The Cavaliers will be looking for their third straight NWCC title.
“We open in the conference with Upper Scioto Valley, who is going to be one of the toughest teams in the conference,” Roll said. “We are going to have to get better (as the season goes on). With this staff, we (past teams) have done that every year. Winning the conference and going to the playoffs are our goals every year.”
And that hasn’t changed.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.