EATON — Eaton football and winning football games seemingly go hand-in-hand. After a 7-3 season last year though, the Eagles just missed out on the post-season.
“Anytime we don’t make the playoffs, we’re disappointed. Anytime we don’t win the league, we’re disappointed. Those are our goals every year: win the Southwestern Buckeye League and qualify for the playoffs,” said head coach Ron Neanen.
It’s been a three-year playoff drought for Eaton, but they hope to get back in the swing of things this year. To do so, they will need to replace two-year starting quarterback Billy Ritter, who was lost to graduation.
The team also lost their two middle linebackers – who were also two-year starters – in Cody Walters and Adam Slemker.
“We have to grow up and gain experience quickly at some key positions,” said Neanen. “On the flip side, we have a returning running back, we have some returning skill guys, and we have some returning linemen.”
In total, the Eagles return six offensive starters and four defensive starters from last years season. The team also holds nine seniors on the roster.
“All nine seniors will play a lot for us and are who we are counting on. It’s not a big class, but it’s a class where they will all contribute. They will contribute a lot,” added Neanen. “Leadership-wise, they’ve done a really good job in the winter, spring, and summer of preparing us and bring us along, and working hard. I’m really happy with our senior class.”
The seniors are: Garrett Eiler, Logan Beare, Kain Crossman, Zavier Spears, Seth Reynolds, Noah Lainhart, Brandon George, Shane Hammock, and Cole Howard
“For us to be successful, they’ll need to play the best football of their career,” said Neanen of his seniors. “Our seniors have to set the tempo and that’s just not in games – that’s every day in practice, in film session, in the weight room, speed training. The seniors kind of set the personality of your team. With that being said, we work a lot with our seniors with that in mind and leadership roles and trying to get them to teach our younger kids. We believe that when they teach our young guys, that they learn it even better themselves.”
Eaton currently has not appointed a starting quarterback, but the battle is between junior Austin Hartzler and sophomore Lew Bowser.
The Eagles open up their season hosting Greenville at 7 p.m. Friday.