Generals’ air attack now hitting on all cylinders

Generals’ air attack now hitting on all cylinders

Image Credit: Aaron Dorksen

It didn’t take long for first-year Wooster football coach Austin Holter to identify the strength of the team he inherited.

The Generals had graduated their starting offensive backfield and all but one lineman, but there were several talented wide receivers returning and a strong-armed senior quarterback who’d been working and waiting for his chance.

“As a coach, when you structure your offensive or defensive strategies, the first thing you have to think about is who are your top players,” Holter said. “Then you put together your best formations to get those players in the game and worry about the plays after that.

“It’s the old adage, ‘It’s not about the X’s and O’s; it’s about the Jimmys and the Joes.’ We knew coming into the year that we had great talent in the skilled positions. Drew Becker being a first-year starter at quarterback, he’s continuing to get better each game.”

Wooster, currently 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, has had some ups and downs this season, but the passing game has moved the ball consistently all season. The Generals have more than three times more passing yards than rushing yards.

Becker has completed 140-of-231 pass attempts for 1,693 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

“Drew is maturing every game, and he’s grown every time he has an opportunity to take a snap,” Holter said. “I’ve been really proud of Drew’s competitive drive and his focus. He has been really fun to coach, and I think his best football is yet to come.”

The Generals have had their three highest scoring performances in the last three weeks: 39-7 win over Mount Vernon, 41-37 loss at West Holmes and 38-14 win over Lexington.

Wooster ranks 13th in Div. II, Region 7 entering its final home game, a key match-up against Mansfield Senior (5-2, 2-1) on Oct. 8.

“I think we’ve come together as the season’s been going along, and everybody’s getting their touches,” said Becker, who’s getting recruiting interest as a baseball player. “There are a lot of presnap reads, and then I’ll just work from there. We have a lot of guys who can catch the ball, so anybody can be open at any point, and I just give them the rock.”

Six different receivers, all seniors, have caught two TD passes or more: Jack Williams (39-542 receiving, 6 TDs), Micah McKee (27-475, 3), Zach Harpster (26-223, 2), Greg Adams (18-172, 2), Karson Coblentz (11-138, 2) and Drew Dossi (7-123, 2).

Williams and Harpster are three-sport athletes, also playing basketball and baseball. The 6-foot-4 McKee and 6-1 Dossi also are basketball standouts.

“It’s awesome being a part of this offense,” Williams said. “We have the ability to throw it anywhere we want, whenever, and it’s a lot of fun. Becker’s got a lot of options, and he’s been doing a great job.”

Adams leads the ground game with 67 carries for 202 yards and three TDs while junior Seth Chamberlin has 35 carries for 170 yards.

“Any successful football coach will tell you that you have to establish a run game if you want to sustain success,” Holter said. “That’s an area that we continue to work at. Honestly, the development of our offense has really come through our offensive line’s continued improvement, and I’m really proud of them.”

Wooster’s offensive line has been manned by Graham Dixon (G-T), Evan Fisher (G), Tevin Turner (G-C), Liam Horst (C), Connor Anderson (G), Caleb Lamb (T) and Braden Haumesser (T).

Senior Drew Rader has been one of the area’s top kickers, connecting on 8-of-9 field goals including a career-long 43-yarder last week. He’s booted 19 PATs to lead the team with 43 points. He also plays for the Wooster soccer team (9-4) and scored the game-winning goal against Medina Highland.

“I’ve been in contact with several colleges, and I’m hoping to be a kicker or punter in college,” Rader said. “We’ll see how it unfolds.”

Holter is quick to praise his offensive coordinator, Mason Espinosa, for the Generals’ continued improvement.

“Coach Espinosa is doing a great job of finding ways to get our guys the ball in a variety of ways,” Holter said. “We’re lucky to have him on our coaching staff. He was and still is a great quarterback, and he’s an excellent coach.”

Espinosa is a free agent arena football quarterback, having played in 2020 for the Columbus Lions of the National Arena League. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Espinosa played for Ohio Wesleyan and is the North Coast Athletic Conference’s all-time leader in career passing yards (10,839) and total yards (11,072). He coached with Holter at Denison University for the previous five seasons.

“The kids have been unbelievable, the way they work and want to get better,” Espinosa said. “Something that stands out is their unselfishness. They’re genuinely happy when their friends score, and that exudes itself in other things besides just catching or running for touchdowns, like blocking or doing the little things to help make them successful.

“Our arena season is from March to August, so it works out well timewise. I have a lot of faith in Austin, believe a lot in him and what he stands for, and it’s great to be a coach here.”

After losing a heartbreaker at West Holmes, Wooster would need some help to claim a share of the OCC title. However, Williams said there’s also another big goal the team’s working toward.

“We talk among ourselves that we have a goal to win a playoff game,” Williams said. “It hasn’t been done around here in a while, and that’s something we’re shooting for.”