Coach: Mike May, second year, 2-8
Last Year: 2-8 (2-5, SBC)
Forecast: May has the daunting task of getting the Rockets back on track two years after coach Gary Quisno, who is now at Sandusky Perkins, led the program to a 224-83 record in 29 years.
May, a Vanlue native, is confident he can achieve that task, having brought with him experience as an assistant at St. Mary's Memorial in the mighty 10-team Western Buckeye League — one of Northwest Ohio's most historic and competitive leagues for bigger schools.
May spent eight years as the defensive coordinator at St. Mary’s Memorial, and before that he spent three years as an assistant coach at Elmwood. He was also an assistant coach at Ohio Northern for one year.
St. Mary's used the powerful wing-T offense, considered by many coaches to be ideal for high school football, and May is continuing to use that formation at Oak Harbor. It is also the same formation Quisno used at Oak Harbor and uses now at Perkins, so there really is very little changing of the guard the past two years in the Rocket camp.
“I played in this offense in college at Defiance, and the two schools I coached at previously were both wing-T schools,” May said. “I’ve just always followed the wing-T offense and studied it. It’s one of the best offenses you can run in high school.”
Returning starters on offense for the Oak Harbor Rockets are junior quarterback Steve Young (6-3, 180), senior running back Matt Klippstein (5-9, 180), junior running back Jake Scott (5-9, 175), senior wide receiver Brad Perry (5-10, 165), senior offensive linemen Steve Lindsay (6-2, 255), Zach Sandwisch (6-2, 285), and Mike Mallernee (5-10, 195), and junior offensive lineman Jake Grzymkowski (6-2, 210).
Last year, Young got plenty of experience at quarterback — completing 25 of 57 passes (43.9 percent) for 202 yards and one touchdown. The 6-2, 285 pound Sandwisch returns to the O-line after earning all-league honors a season ago.
Returning starters on Oak Harbor's traditional 4-3 defense are senior defensive back Nick Priesman (5-8, 150), junior linebacker Scott (5-9, 175), senior defensive back Davey Burkett (5-11, 155), senior defensive linemen Lindsay and Sandwisch, senior linebacker Mallernee, and junior defensive lineman Grzymkowski.
Mallernee returns after getting 57 tackles a season ago, including 10 for a loss, and brings with him all-league accolades from 2008.
It is the experience that returns, including "senior leadership and overall attitude" that Mike May says will make a difference between this year's club and last year's. May says he recognizes that the Rockets still "need to create depth at most positions," meaning any kind of injury could be disastrous for the season's long haul.
May says he believes the Rockets must "play hard for 48 minutes and the wins will come." Oak Harbor was picked by coaches and media to finish sixth in the SBC, but May says "Clyde would be my pick (to win the league) until someone knocks them off."
“One of our goals by our captains is to be 1-0 every week,” May said. “We focus on that. We don’t look ahead or look behind. We want to be 1-0 and improve every week - just try to be prepared and ready for Friday night the best we can.”
For the second straight season, Oak Harbor opens against non-league rival Springfield of the Northern Lakes League, only this season the Rockets are traveling to Blue Devil country. Then the Rockets have their annual Celestial Bowl match-up hosting Ottawa County and Route 163 rival Genoa and then another key non-league match-up at Eastwood.
“We need senior leadership and we’re going to need a number of juniors to be ready to step up and play,” May said. “We need to improve every day and take a step forward every day.”