High expectations and high motors were not enough to elevate the Amelia Barons back towards the top of the Southern Buckeye Conference in 2013, but head coach Randy Hospelhorn and the staff of the Barons along with a core of returning players will be doing their best to bring prominence back to Clough Pike in 2014.
“2-8 is not what we expected,” Hospelhorn said of his team’s year-end record. “It was a trying season. None of us are happy about the way we finished. Expectations were high, but I can’t approach it any different than that.
“Even though we were small in numbers, we prepared every week like it was the championship game and we expected to win. We just didn’t.”
The Barons season came to an end on Friday, Nov. 1 with a 10-point loss to Western Hills, 24-14.
A letdown in the second quarter allowed the Mustangs to amass all 24 of their points, mostly coming on big plays while Amelia couldn’t sustain a drive to the goal line, racking up a few first downs before eventually stalling.
Junior quarterback Tyler Nicodemus threw 17 times, completing five for 51 yards and a late score. He also ran seven times for 33 yards.
Senior Cohen Canter carried the lion’s share of the load, toting the ball 10 times for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Junior fullback TJ Troxell also carried the rock nine times for 33 yards.
Nicodemus and Troxell will lead a host of juniors returning next season for the Barons and Hospelhorn is confident that the results on the field next year will be the result of the hard work that his team will put in this offseason.
“Our junior class got a lot of playing time (this year),” Hospelhorn said. “(Aside for Troxell and Nicodemus), Carter Hounshell had 120 tackles from the linebacker position. TJ Reed did well receiving; Wade Hauser stepped up and had a good year.
“I know the junior class will be good leaders because they’ll get in (the weight room) and work. They had a lot of gains in their squats and cleans and all that, so I know they’ll be good leaders for the sophomores and juniors that we’re going to have.”
As the juniors and underclassmen look towards the next season, seven seniors saw their high school careers come to an end. Canter, along with Donnie Sellers, Gary Sunday, Jake Miller, Logan Hughes, Naeem Shalash and Nick Pangallo suited up in the blue and white for the last time on Nov. 1 and Hospelhorn said their commitment and hard work in the program left the team far better than how they found it.
“(The seniors) came out and really stepped up and gave a big effort,” the coach said. “(Miller) broke his collar bone and rehabbed really hard to get back for the last few games, which is a tribute to him and his work ethic.
“We had to move some people around (because of injuries) into places they haven’t played too much. Having to move people around, the seniors stepped up and played well. My hat’s off to all the seniors for their effort, I can’t discount any of them. In one way or another, they all contributed.”
With the seniors walking out the door, spots have opened for some underclassmen to fill their roles. Hospelhorn said that he had a few sophomores and freshmen see significant playing time this season and he hopes that they can build upon their experience to help the team in the future.
Sophomores Jake Pangallo and Jake Helton gained some invaluable experience in just their second year in the program. Cage Meyer, Christian Samson and David Collins, freshmen all, were given a baptism by fire in their first taste of high school football, playing significant minutes in positions that sometimes were new to them.
Meyer, a safety by trade, was moved to defensive end when injuries stipulated and Collins move from defensive line to offensive tackle.
Hospelhorn said that while the numbers have been low, the experience some of the younger guys are gaining can only help them and the program going forward. He hopes to get some more players to come out next year, but is ready to go with what he’s got.
“I hope all three (returning) classes can be a guiding light to the incoming freshmen,” Hospelhorn said. “I think they all know what it takes to play and every year the classes are getting better. The leadership is getting better and the work ethic is getting better.
“I already know I’m going to be proud of their offseason workouts and I’m going to be proud of the leaders I’m going to have, so hopefully it leads to great things for the team, the school and the community.”