Coach: Steve Reser, first year
Last year: 3-7 (1-5, SLL)
Forecast: Reser, who replaces Matt Harp, has inserted new offensive and defensive schemes this season for the Golden Bears.
Reser previously served as offensive coordinator for five years at Seneca East, one year at Tiffin Columbian and three years as the wide receivers coach at Heidelberg College.
“We will be in several shotgun, one-back formations on offense,” Reser said, “and on the defensive end we will be running a four-man front with multiple backfield looks. We want to be 50-50 run/pass (ratio), which is different from the 90-10 they did before. We’re more of a spread attack.”
Gibsonburg returns four starters on offense - senior quarterback Brett Diekman, senior tight end Nick Sneider, senior tackle Tyler Hill and junior guard Bobby Heath - and four on defense in senior Nick Black, who has moved to strong safety from inside linebacker, senior tackle Jamie Mancha, senior corner Vince Kirsch and Sneider at linebacker.
Diekman, who will also start at safety, is doing a good job of picking up the new offense, according to Reser. Diekman completed 34-of-78 passes (43.6 percent) for 445 yards and four touchdowns last year, plus he scored three touchdowns and kicked nine conversion points. Black caught 13 passes for 172 yards (13.4 per catch) and two touchdowns.
“He is really developing,” the coach said. “He’s catching on to reading the defense. He’s giving us his full attention, and his attitude is outstanding and his ability to be coached has been great so far. The kids are catching on. They’re working hard and the attitude has been great.”
The Bears will often use four-receiver sets as well as three-receiver formations with a tight end. The receivers are Kirsch, senior Andy Ritter and juniors Logan Jones and Jordan Eddings. Sneider returns at tight end.
“We have some smaller, quicker guys and two inside receivers who are 6-4, 200 pounds,” Reser said.
Kirsch, Ritter and Eddings are quicker, so when they get the ball in space they can do some good things with it. The versatility of the receiving corps is really nice.”
Black, a two-year letterman, will start at tailback.
“Nick has been great and very coachable,” Reser said. “He sees the game in front of him, with linemen moving and pulling, and once he sees a hole, he hits it. He’s a nice running back. The offensive line is really working hard at the zone scheme and coming together as a unit.”
Gibsonburg’s defense will be a combination of a 4-4 and 4-3 alignments, with either three or four secondary defenders depending on what the offense does. Reser said the Bears ran a five-man defensive line last season.
“In this defense, if everybody does their job we should be great,” he said. “The two guys who really have to know their responsibility are the outside linebackers. Based on the formation, they could go from outside ‘backer to safety with pass responsibilities. Their role really changes once the offense starts their cadence and motion.”
Sneider and junior Curt Davies will start at linebacker, with Black returning at strong safety. Jones and junior Bobby Heath are the starting ends, while Kirsch and Eddings are at cornerback.
Senior Andy Ritter will be asked to fill several roles.
“Andy is doing a great job,” Reser said. “He will back up our outside and inside linebackers, and it’s a lot of responsibility to learn those roles. We want to get a nice rotation going.”
Reser added that the Bears’ goal throughout the season is to play disciplined football and give themselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
“Several of our top players will be on the field all night,” he said. “We hope to be able to keep our fitness at a level where we can give our top effort on every play. That will give us the best opportunity to win ball games.”
This is the final year Gibsonburg will compete in the SLL. Next year, the Golden Bears will join Northwood, Cardinal Stritch, and five other schools to compete in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.