The 2017 football season will see a continuation of changes in conference affiliations as Fort Loramie will cast their lot with the Cross County Conference after initiating the program as an independent, then as a member of the Northwest Central Conference with fellow Shelby County rival Lehman.
Ft Loramie – This move has all of Redskin nation, starting with head coach Whit Parks, eagerly anticipating the kick off in week one against neighboring Minster on the road.
The veteran coach put the move in perspective recently saying, “everyone likes a fresh start, seeing new opponents and going to different schools. We have a familiarity with a number of these schools since we play them in basketball, but getting them on the football field is new and exciting, plus, going south for the majority of our games is nice for our fans as opposed to some of the trips we made the past several years.”
But beyond a new conference, there are other, and maybe more substantial reasons for this air of anticipation. First and foremost, regardless of league affiliation, the 2016 season left somewhat of a bad taste for all associated with Redskin football.
Though a relatively young program, Fort Loramie is not a stranger to the play-offs, making their most recent appearance in 2015, then missing last year as they finished on the outside looking in with a 5-5 ledger.
Looking back on 2015, Whit Parks feels that injuries were a factor as we lost one of our best athletes for the year, (Carter Mescher), in week one, in week two, lost our QB for several weeks, and in week four lost Cody Gasson.
Adding to this anticipation is a roster loaded with veterans. Though 11 seniors picked up their diplomas in May, there are 11 returning lettermen, 7 on offense, and 8 on defense on a roster that has 53 players.
The offense will be led by veteran QB, Austin Siegel who was injured as a sophomore, but has a ton of game experience. Mike Hoying will be the featured running back, and Carter Mescher, may be the most versatile athlete on the team, will line up in a variety of positions from the backfield to a slot position.
“He is a nice player and we have to find ways of getting the ball in his hands,” stated coach Parks.
Leading the way up front will be veterans Collin Detrick and Sam Puthoff. Puthoff, a 6’5”, 270 pound senior is being recruited by Bowling Green, among others.
Both of the aforementioned lineman will anchor the Redskin front in their 4-4 defense and will be backed by Cody Barhorst and Mike Hoying from their linebacker spots. The Redskins must find some replacements on the line on both sides of the ball, but help should be available as the JV team, and 8th grade team each finished the 2015 season with a single loss.
As the relatively relaxed summer workouts conclude, and the more intense two a days begin, Whit Parks shared some thoughts on the 2017 season. “We have two outstanding lineman, way above average team speed, with a veteran backfield. Our attitude has been tremendous as exhibited by 100% attendance at our off season work-outs. We are excited about the new league and playing some D-6 schools. But, to get where we want to go we know that we will have to go through a MAC school and that is where playing good opponents each week will be beneficial.”
It would be easy to assume that a coach with the background that Whit Parks brings would be the dominant force. Make no mistake, the Mt. Union grad and owner of 205 career wins, is the guy in charge, but it is equally clear that this venture is not about him.
“Coming to Fort Loramie was such an easy choice, our family grew up in the area, I had previous coaching experience here, (Minster), and had a connection with the staff, (his son Ty is on the staff), among others he knew. Plus, this is such a great area to be a coach, I coach hard and players and families generally accept this style.”
The very likable coach is old school, but after 35 seasons is in the game for all the right reasons. He sees the program as an extension of community life in Fort Loramie. He recently conducted a Ladies Football night explaining basic fundamentals and discussing football issues. He and his staff, along with community members, completely revamped the weight room.
It very clear that he is in the right place, at the right time.
So when the season kicks off in several weeks in what will be a packed house at Minster’s Memorial Stadium, there will be a 65 year old head coach exhibiting the enthusiasm of a first year coach, a motivated group of Redskins, and an entire community ready to begin a new football venture.