It was a disheartening ending to his first season as La Salle's head football coach. In the regional championship game the 3-time defending state champion Lancers had rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit only to see their season end on a Winton Woods' 28-yard field goal as time expired. The ending was hard to take for all the Lancers' faithful, but it was especially vexing for rookie coach Pat McLaughlin.
Coach McLaughlin said, "In football or any sport if you don't win the last game it takes a long time to get over it. That game is a game I think about every day, so I would say I'm not completely over it yet. We have had a good off season to build on and move forward this year."
In Ohio you have 10 coaching days that you can use in June or July. La Salle chose to do theirs the last two weeks of July. They are now in two-a-days and by the end of the week they will have had about 20 practices.
Progress So Far
Coach McLaughlin is very happy with where the team is right now. He commented, "We have some depth we are developing on both sides of the ball. We are young at a couple of positions in the secondary and offensive line. I think our most important thing as we go through two-a-days is to develop depth and stay healthy."
"Our offensive and defensive systems are in, as is special teams. The kids know the process. Now we are interested in operating on a high level so that we are ready to go on August 24th."
Areas Of Strength And Lack Of Experience
When asked what areas of the team he felt best about he commented, "Probably our three strongest areas right now are our linebackers, who are good players and good kids. Our defense overall should be a strength. Our kicking game should be strength with an all-state kicker and punter and our snapper back. Offensively, our skill positions have depth and they are pretty good players."
"Probably the two areas we lack experience in are our offensive line and our secondary. We lost our whole secondary last year, all four guys, and we lost everybody in the offensive line except for one. We are developing depth there and we will be good at both of those spots in time. When you are playing a sophomore or a junior you don't really know how they are going to react until they get out there and compete against someone else. So far they have done a good job."
The team is not a veteran team nor is it made up mostly of newcomers. It is more a mix of both.
The captains, picked by their teammates, are running back Cam Porter, linebackers Brody Ingle, Jared Uran, Chase Campbell, and Garrett Bledsoe.
There are about 5-6 players on defense and offense that got significant playing time last year. Also both the kicker and punter are back.
Missing from this year's team is 2nd team all-GCL quarterback Griffin Merritt who is attending the University of Cincinnati on a baseball scholarship. Taking his place will be either MJ Horton or Drew Nieman. Both are competing for the job. Coach McLaughlin said, "They will get equal reps and the competition will go all the way through the Walnut Hills scrimmage. They are both doing well. It is a healthy, good completion."
"Each brings a little bit different dynamic to the table. It could be a committee situation, which I have done before. MJ can run it. He is an athlete back there playing quarterback. He is trying to learn the offense. Drew is more of a thrower who can get the ball to the right spots."
When asked what he learned his first year at La Salle Pat replied, "When you come to a new place that has a winning culture and you bring in some new ideas with some changes that you do or your staff has made that might not be familiar to the kids, you learn how the kids will adapt to it."
"I learned that we have good, hard working, resilient kids. They listen and they want to be coached. It takes about a year to get to know the culture, the offense, the defense, the staff and me personally learning the school part of being at La Salle. I feel much more comfortable going into our season. Does that equal more wins, I don't know, but I feel really comfortable right now as to where our staff and program is."
In the off-season there were a few coaching changes. On the defensive side of the ball Jay Roden will become defensive coordinator. Bobby Concolli left and went to Noblesville Indiana to be a coordinator. Joining us is Tyler Elrod who coached at East Central last year. Keith Rucker left to coach at Capital University. Jim Huxel came over from Moeller and will be strength coach and defensive line coach. Huxel spent 10 years at Moeller and 10 years at La Salle.
On the offense Cody Reardon left to become the head coach at Reading.
Players Recruited By Division I Schools
Brody Ingle has verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati.
Jared Uran has verbally committed to Akron University.
Garrett Bledsoe has verbally committed to University of Albany.
Cam Porter has 10-15 division I offers.
Jaymar Mundy and Iesa Jarmon both received offers by Toledo.
Jake Seibert, rated one of the top 12 kickers in the country, will be able to pick from some of the elite division I schools.
Plus a number of other players are getting looks by Division I schools.
Sizing up the GCL
When asked who was the team to beat in the city and GCL Pat offered, "The GCL is the most important to us. I think all three teams will be good. Moeller has a new head coach and he will do a good job over there. Elder played a lot of young kids last year. They will be very good. It sounds like X will be the team to beat. They got a lot of kids coming back and that big tackle."
Sizing up The City
"For us the two teams we have to beat in the city are Colerain, week 1 and Winton Woods. Those two teams will probably be ranked number 1 in division I and II, in the city."
Pat said, "Our schedule should be a tough, very difficult schedule. We play five division I schools that are city teams, four out of state teams and one out of country team. All the teams are good. The two teams from Missouri are really good. Scott County is good as well as the team from Florida.