HUBER HEIGHTS — After the Wayne football team placed second in the state in Division I competition lasr year, falling to Lakewood St. Edward 31-21 in the state final, expectations are again high for the 2015 squad.
“The expectations will be high again,” said Wayne head coach Jay Minton. “You hope for that — you hope that they will stay high. Hopefully, we’ve been able to build a program here that had a great foundation and we’ve been able to build one that doesn’t have rebuilding years attached to it…Right now, we feel like we’ve got another good shot to have another great season. Rebuilding right now is just not in our vocabulary.”
Minton talked about the expectations of the players.
“Our kids — their expectation is to play 15 weeks, which would be outstanding, that would be nice. Our thing as coaches is to play week one. You can’t play week 15 if you slip up and don’t get out of the gates early.”
At quarterback is senior Messiah DeWeaver, a transfer from Trotwood, who has committed to Michigan State.
“It’s a blessing for us that Messiah and his family came to Huber Heights during the off-season from Trotwood,” said Minton. “…Yes, he’s a great player and he’s going to be an outstanding quarterback for us, but he’s an ever better person. That’s what we like around our program…We’re looking forward to him being one of the leaders on our team and see how far we can go with him.”
De Weaver competed in the Elite 11 this summer at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. for some of the top quarterbacks in the country.
“Messiah did a great job,” said Minton. “He did an outstanding job out there and competed well, which doesn’t surprise us.”
Minton was asked if he had any concerns about De Weaver adjusting to Wayne.
“No, no, no,” responded Minton. “He’s a very seasoned young man — very mature. He’s been in a couple of state final games and he’s been in a semifinal. He’s been in some big games. He started for them, I think, since he’s been a freshman, off and on…He’s been tested if you will. I think our system, he’s picked up. He’s a very smart young man, too. Then again, he’s got some great guys around him.”
One of his receivers is 5-10 Matt Wilcox.
“He’s definitely a guy that will see the ball a lot,” said Minton. “He’s only a junior and he’s one of the better receivers.”
Another is 6-4 sophomore L’Christian Smith, whom Minton said is one of the top sophomore receivers in the state.
“He’s a big range guy,” said Minton.
Other receivers are seniors Tobias Gilliam who is also a defensive back and senior Daryl McCleskey. McCleskey came to Wayne from Thurgood Marshal who Minton said was real fast and will see action on both sides of the ball.
Minton said he’s “really excited” about the running game. Returning running backs include juniors Josh Foster (5-10, 165) and Fred Pitts (5-9, 190).
“So far, in our scrimmages, Fred Pitts and Josh Foster have really looked great,” said Minton.
New to Wayne is senior Antwand Wilson (5-9, 220) who played at C-J last year. McCleskey and Wilcox will also see action at this position.
In the kicking game, senior Nate Strong returns for extra points, field goals and kick-offs. Senior Caleb Davis returns as the punter.
‘Right now, Nate and Caleb are looking pretty good,” said Minton.
Senior Jesse Bailey is challenging for a kicking spot.
Defensively, Wayne lost Robert Landers (defensive lineman) who is playing at The Ohio State University and Tyree Kinnell (defensive back) who is playing at Michigan. Minton was aked how you fill that gap.
“I don’t think you do,” he said. “I think if you concentrate on trying to replace those kids, you’re fooling yourself. You don’t get two kids like that on one side of the ball very often because Tyree Kinnell up at Michigan was taking some reps with the number ones-that’s what kind of player he is, and then Robert is taking solid reps with the number twos at Ohio State, which said they’re not thinking about red-shirting him, he could get some minutes this year. You don’t walk into those places as a freshman and do that, unless you’re outstanding, over the top guys.”
Wayne also lost linebacker Guy Victoria.
“That’s a big loss,” said Minton. “We had one at each level last year
Minton said Wayne has some great players on defense.
“Our challenge right now is to get people in the right position,” he said. “We feel like we’ve got Tobias in the secondary this year. The defensive line will be younger. Again, Mazon Walker is a guy that if anybody’s going to be close to filling Robert
Landers’ shoes, it’ll be Mazon. We’ll work around that and try to build the ‘d-line’ around that.”
The linebackers will depend upon a “collective group that is going to have to bond even stronger together,” according to Minton.
“Our guys did last year, but they’re going to have to be real strong and play for each other this year to make up any kind of loss that we had,” added Minton.
Minton said he feels that Wayne has a tough schedule this year, including the nationally televised game at Moeller in week two followed by Lakota West at home in week three. In the Greater Western Ohio Confence Central Division, Minton said that Springfield will be improved this year with more kids participating since they do not have a participation fee. He said Beavercreek is “tougher and more physical.” Northmont has a new head coach in Tony Broering and is expected to run the ball more. Minton said that Centerville, a team that beat Wayne in week 10 last season, lost some good players, but will be ready for Wayne by week 10.
“We’ll be ready,” added Minton.
Reach Greg Smart at 937-236-4990, ext. 2542 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.com.