WAYNE COUNTY ATHLETIC LEAGUE
at a glance
The fight for the Wayne County Athletic League championship should be interesting as always. Smithville, which had won at least a share of six consecutive league titles heading into last season, was dethroned by defending WCAL champion Northwestern. But it will be tough for Northwestern to repeat because of Smithville's tradition and Norwayne's potential. Norwayne was 8-2 and finished third in the league last season behind Northwestern and Smithville, but the Bobcats have nine starters returning on offense and nine starters returning on defense. Waynedale, which finished 7-3 last season, has seven starters returning on both sides of the ball and might be able to make a push toward the top of the league standings.
5-foot-10, 195 pounds.
A second-team All-WCAL selection last season, Morris rushed for 841 yards and seven touchdowns on 173 carries for the league champion Huskies. He also ran for 1,780 yards and was a Division V All-Ohio pick as a sophomore.
A second-team all-WCAL selection last season, Indermuhle had 88 tackles and three sacks as an inside linebacker. With the graduation of star running back Kevin Beichler, Indermuhle is expected to get the bulk of the carries. He ran for 435 yards and nine touchdowns on 80 carries last season.
A first-team All-WCAL selection last season, Neff led the team in tackles with 128 as an inside linebacker in the Golden Bears' 4-4 defense. Neff is also expected to get some carries as a running back.
Nofsinger ran for 560 yards and three touchdowns last season as a sophomore. He is expected to be the team's featured running back and will also play defensive end.
Norwayne at Smithville
Week 4, Sept. 14.
The first week of league play will be a test for Norwayne, which lost to Smithville 35-24 at home last season.
Norwayne at Northwestern
Week 6, Sept. 28.
Norwayne will look to avenge its 35-0 loss to Northwestern last season and prove that it is a legitimate contender for the league title.
Northwestern at Smithville
Week 9, Oct. 19.
The Smithies will try to avenge their 21-6 loss from last season to the defending WCAL champion Huskies.
After four WCAL teams made the state playoffs in 2005, only two made it in 2006: Northwestern and Smithville. The Huskies and the Smithies both lost in the first round of the Division V playoffs. Norwayne finished ninth in its region and missed the postseason by one spot.
There were some drastic turnarounds for WCAL teams last season. Norwayne was 3-7 in 2005, but the Bobcats tied a school record for wins in a season by going 8-2 in 2006. Rittman was 7-3 in 2005 and made the playoffs, but the Indians went 1-9 last season.
Brian Hessey is back as the head coach of Chippewa. Hessey replaced former Browns punter Bryan Wagner, who compiled a 6-14 record in two seasons as the Chips' coach. Hessey coached Chippewa from 1996 to 2001. He guided the Chipps to the WCAL title and a playoff appearance in 1999. Hessey teaches social studies and works with students in the occupational work adjustment program at Chippewa High School.
Waynedale coach Matt Zuercher had a solid start to his head coaching career last season. The Golden Bears finished 7-3 after back-to-back 5-5 seasons in 2004 and 2005. Zuercher was a star linebacker for the Golden Bears, and went on to play at the University of Akron.
Former University of Akron football players Jay Rohr and Mike Donaldson will join Allen Teague's coaching staff at Rittman. Rohr, who was a first-team Mid-American Conference selection as a linebacker in 2005, will be the team's defensive coordinator. Donaldson, who played guard on the Zips' offensive line, will be a line coach for the Indians.
There will be no returning starting quarterbacks in the WCAL this season.
Northwestern's undefeated regular season was seriously threatened in Week 10. Hillsdale (4-6) came close to pulling off the upset losing 13-6 in overtime. streaks & stats
Smithville qualified for the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year. Northwestern made its second postseason appearance in a row after qualifying for the first time in 2005.
Northwestern had a dominant 2006 season. Not only did the Huskies go undefeated in the regular season, but they also outscored their opponents 311-42. The Huskies defense had four shutouts in the regular season, including three consecutive games against WCAL opponents Rittman, Norwayne and Chippewa.
Smithville is famous for its wing-T offense and its running game. Last season, the Smithies had four players combine to run for 3,085 yards and 44 touchdowns. The Smithies had only 96 passing attempts for 747 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
Norwayne scored 46 points or more five times last season. The Bobcats, however, were shut out by Northwestern in a 35-0.
Orrville was 8-2 in the regular season last year and advanced to the Division IV regional final, where it lost to eventual state champion Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. Quarterback Kyle Simmons, a recent Orrville graduate who will play football for Ohio Northern University, threw for 3,174 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. He also ran for 941 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was a first-team all-Ohio selection and the Division IV Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
Ohio Cardinal Conference
3. West Holmes.
4. Clear Fork.
6. Madison Comprehensive.