Oak Glen breaking in fresh faces in spots


For The Times Leader

NEW CUMBERLAND — Even with 10 seniors on Oak Glen’s roster for the upcoming season, the Golden Bears are starting fresh on and off the field.

After an underachieving 2-8 record a season ago, second-year head coach Ted Arneault knows this year will be a challenge early on. It’s just a matter of improving week after week to achieve their goals. That’s all Oak Glen can do at this point.

“We have a lot of fresh faces, and everybody’s excited to get started,” Arneault said. “I think we’ll be a culturally different football team this year. I’m very impressed with how the kids applied themselves in the offseason. We’re not going to be the most experienced team, but I think that will work to our benefit, and I think we’ll get better as the year goes on.”

Arneault looked to Dominic Price, Lance Collins and others last year to lead. With them out the skilled positions are up for grabs. Until they are filled, Arneault will lean on his offensive and defensive lines. He also knows that whatever happens this season, it won’t be because a lack of effort.

“We have a really enthusiastic young group of kids in the program. One of the things we really worked on this year is applying ourselves in the offseason with self discipline, mental attitude and putting in the work in order to be competitive,” Arneault said. “Our kids have responded to that so far.

“There was just a little bit of time last year to establish the offseason culture. I think we finally got a full year to grow and bond. I think one of the biggest differences from last year and this year is the offseason attitude we established.”

Filling the skilled positions is Oak Glen’s toughest challenge. There is plenty of room to apply and improve after averaging just 153 yards and 8.9 points per game last season. Defensively, the Golden Bears allowed 332.3 yards and 33.5 points per game.

“Right now our experience is our line. Most of our youth is in our skilled positions,” Arneault said. “We’re basically replacing all of our skilled guys on both sides of the ball. Jaden (Glenn) is the only one returning in the skilled position defensively.

“Offensively, we only have Ethan Travis returning.”

Replacing Collins at quarterback is priority No. 1. Collins completed 58 passes for 766 yards and six touchdowns, but his leadership was the mind blowing stat not seen on paper.

“The way it works out, there may be a single kid that emerges from that spot or a committee of kids,” Arneault said. “We have kids with various skill sets and are strong in certain areas, so there may moments where we have to use different kids in certain situations.”

Glenn is competing for the starting along with junior Hunter Skeeles and freshman Nick Chaney. Even when Arneault finds his guy or guys to take the snaps, his offensive scheme is designed for running.

“We’ll probably be a 60 percent running team, but we have to be able to throw the ball,” he said. “We need kids to make plays on third down. We’ll have no problem throwing it on first down. We have to make it a part of our game.”

The running game could be a committee of backs with various skills. Oak Glen only rushed for 692 yards last year, 500 from Price alone. Price also only reached the end zone two times. Seniors William Straight and Collin Williams are leading the charge, while juniors Blake Almo and Michael Lemley are not far behind.

Williams is also competing for time as a fullback, even though that position will basically just be a second running back. Senior Gus Weekley is also in the mix.

Another skilled player needing replaced is Chase Crago. He caught 36 passes for 527 yards and five scores.

The Golden Bears may look to give their senior tight end, Travis, a few more touches. Senior Mac Enriquez and sophomore Zach Taylor are two receivers competing for touches as well.

Whether it’s rushing or passing, Oak Glen’s strength is at the line with three returning starters. Three-year starter Mathias Cook leads the group along with two more returning starters in junior Cam Oulds and senior Ty Biela. Oulds switched from center to guard, while Biela is at tackle. Senior Tony Minnis is also in the mix.

On the other side of the line, Minnis and Cook will help lead the defense. Williams and Travis are competing for time as well. Straight and junior Kellen Tropek take their spots at inside linebacker.

As for cornerbacks and safeties, Arneault is excited about freshman Brayden Mineard and what he has to offer at corner. Enriquez and Zac Taylor will be starting to begin the season. Michael Lemley and Gage Patterson are at free safety, while Almo is the strong outside safety and Glenn at weak.

Arneault’s first year did not go as planned. The 2-8 record mixed in with kids not playing equaled to a disappointing first stab. Oak Glen changed its mindset, knowing it had to change something in order to be competitive.

“Going into the season, you’re obviously looking to win one game at a time,” Arneault said. “The way I’m looking at it this year, and it’s cliche, is we’re looking to go 1-0 every week. Against the teams we didn’t do well against last year, we’re looking to do better against them this year. Not only do we strive for the victory, but we also strive for it the right way.”

If Arneault’s idea goes according to plan, his team will compete at a higher level as the season progresses. It won’t be easy, though, with four of the Golden Bears’ final five games on the road. There may be some pressure with four home games in the first five weeks, but Arneault just wants to see improvement no matter the location.

“As the kids get comfortable being in different positions, we have three freshmen who could play for us at the varsity level, which may be a big shock to them. But as they get used to it and with some sophomores playing at the varsity level, I think it’ll just get better and better as the year gets going. There’s a lot to be excited about at Oak Glen,” Arneault said.

(all games begin at 7 p.m.)

Aug. 25 — Weir

Sept. 2 — at Steubenville CC

Sept. 8 — Buckeye Local

Sept. 23 — Warren Local

Sept. 29 — Edison

Oct. 6 — at East Liverpool

Oct. 13 — at Harrison Cent.

Oct. 20 — Fairmont East

Oct. 27 — at Beaver Local

Nov. 3 — at Wheeling CC


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