By: Collin Frazier
While unfortunately missing the playoffs last season, the Oiler’s football team still had a great 2018 season, finishing the season 8-3 and winning five games in a row. Coach Rob Keys is gearing up for the 2019 season with new experiences and new lessons learned under his belt.
“Looking at this team, I learned a lot about their resilience and really how mentally tough they were,” Keys said. “We started the season with high expectations. After a really tough loss to Hillsdale, that really, really challenged them and they responded in a great way and [won] five in a row down the stretch.”
With every new season comes different positions that will need to be filled in. This season is no exception.
“When you start talking about trying to fill in the holes, you start off [with] two quarterbacks,” Keys stated. “Rhys Gervais, all-time leading passer in Findlay history, you have to replace him. He gets injured, and then Adam Bertke steps in and wins five in a row. He was the starter the last five games, and he graduates. You have to replace, really, two starting quarterbacks. And on the offensive side of the ball, you lose Wide Receiver, Jason Moore.”
Moore is now in the NFL, playing for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Even with losses in these key positions, Keys believes in the strengths of the team on both sides of the ball
“The offensive line is extremely experienced,” Coach Keys said. “We return five of thestarters, three of those five are seniors with Neil Davis, Clay Colvin, and Drew Dickinson… We have senior Tight End Luke Stuffel, who’s played a ton of football. You have a Senior tailback in Nate Slagel as well as Brian Benson, who rushed for almost 1,000 yards. Benson was also an All-American for Running Back.”
Looking at defense, “you got guys like Justin Ellis and Grant Kinsinger are both seniors, and then Kyle Gibson at Defensive End, with All-Region who’s back, and Issac Miles, Colin Robertson, and Anthony Kastelic at linebacker,” Keys commented. “I would say the strength would be the front on both sides of the ball.”
Even with strength in the front line, Keys main focus of the offseason, he believes, was making sure the athletes stayed on campus to work out.
“The main focus [of the offseason] was trying to keep as many people here in the summer as we could, and I think it was the most attended summer,” Keys said. “We probably had consistently 45 to 50 guys here all summer. But if you look at the number of guys that worked out here at least once, you’re looking at over 75 guys, at least”
“Preseason camp, it was just a matter of pulling some of the skills and really moving
forward with the experienced guys and taking their game to the next level,” Keys said. “There’s
a lot of experience in certain spots, but there’s very little experience in other spots. But those
places where there was less experience, we tried to get as many counted players in positions
and compete for those spots, but our focus, regardless of what season it is, is ‘how much better
can I get today?’”
The Oilers begin their 2019 season next Thursday, September 5th at Ferris State University at 7:30 PM in Big Rapids, Michigan.