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2015 Football: Spring Ball in Review

The Ohio Northern defense will have big shoes to fill this season, like graduating senior Dillon Kwiat, seen above making a big play vs. Heidelberg. (ONU Sports Information/ Tim Glon)

Although spring has finally found its way to Ohio Northern, the preparation and work for the varsity football team has not had any delay. Coach Dean Paul and his troops have been practicing for the last four weeks in their spring workout period. The Polar Bears come into this 2015 campaign with many question marks, but even more potential for achieving great heights.

Coaching Staff Rearrangements

Coach Paul will enter his 11th season as head coach of the program, but he is bringing in a few new faces and saying goodbye to some old ones. The coaching staff has three coaches going separate ways and two coaches making their new paw prints as a member of the Polar Bear staff. The two new coaches on the staff are wide receiver and running back coaches; two areas of the ONU offense that have quite a bit of depth and experience. The departed coaches are leaving the areas of defensive line, offensive line and tight end; all three areas of question for the upcoming season. Although the coaching staff has some new question marks to answer, the three main coaches are still in tact: head coach Dean Paul, defensive coordinator Glenn Scheutzow and offensive coordinator Mike Schmitz. The coaching staff has been harping on the fundamentals of the game and this is a time to fine tune the players' skills before the summer.

Year 1 AP (After Pat)

The all-time completion percentage leader in ONU history is now gone from the Polar Bear roster. Pat Angle has been the lockdown starting quarterback for the football team the last two years. With his tangible talent after transferring from division one school Youngstown State, he carried a big load of responsibility. Now that job will belong to one of the five new guys competing for the position of quarterback. The three front-runners in the race are seniors Justin McCray and Connor Devine, and junior Tyler Walter. Devine has the most experience at quarterback getting a majority of the JV reps last season along with a couple times coming in for a rare injury to Angle. This spring ball season has given all five of the guys a chance to showcase their skills, but Devine and Walter get most of the first team reps in practice. As for McCray, he is making a strong comeback from a torn ACL injury last season. He has some strong qualities and a big physical stature for being a quarterback, especially being a left-handed quarterback. The athletic ability is undeniable for all three of the candidates, but how they can handle the pressure of being a quarterback at the varsity level as well as being a good signal caller is what is questioned. The ONU offense is all spread and shotgun, so the ability to understand the playbook is what is most important right now in the replacement of Pat Angle.

Devon Price and his senior campaign

Devon Price is the primary playmaker coming back for the Polar Bears. His offseason was one full of ups and downs as he suffered a torn ACL and had surgery this past March. Although it seems that Price will return on time for week one, there is no certainty about an ACL injury, which the same can be said for McCray and his knee. Price is a three-year letterman and has been named first team All-OAC and All-Central region as a kick returner and has been named second team All-OAC as a receiver. Price is one of the most explosive players in the conference and his leadership, energy and experience cannot be replaced. The experienced receiver core will help in his absence this spring, but if the Polar Bears want to succeed, Price’s health will be a big ingredient.

Although football season seems far away, it will only be a few months until the Polar Bears will be cracking pads, breaking in their cleats and hitting the gridiron. With the newly arranged coaching staff, the competition for quarterback and the return of Devon Price, ONU is working for the opportunity to be an OAC title contender. 

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