The Big Walnut football team had some good moments last year. It had some not-so-good moments as well. Through it all, though, the Golden Eagles formed a foundation they hope to build on this fall.
“Last year was a season of ups and downs,” BW coach Joe Weaver said of 2018’s 3-7 campaign. “We took all the things that we did well from that season and took a good look at what we need to really devote time and effort into to improve. The 2018 team was a team that loved to play for each other … and that’s a great foundation.”
The Eagles, who were young at a lot of positions, knew they had to use the offseason to get better … and Weaver said that’s exactly what they did.
“The offseason was a good one,” he said. “We had a lot of guys commit to the process of developing. We knew we had to develop toughness … the offseason workouts were demanding and the guys stepped up to the challenge. They demanded a lot of themselves and each other.”
One of those young players was quarterback Jagger Barnett, who completed 108 of his 169 passes for 1,652 yards (the most in Delaware County) last year as a sophomore. He tossed nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Jagger had a good year and is another year older, mentally and physically,” Weaver said. “What has impressed me with him is his purposeful work ethic. He puts a lot of time into all aspects of his game and it shows. From the weight room to the field he has dedicated time and effort to developing.”
Other returners on the offensive side of the ball include Tyler Crotinger, Quintin Humphries, Zack Barnecut, Craig Norman, Cohen Andreini, Bryce Wardlow and Alex Ferguson.
Crotinger is back as the team’s leading rusher from a year ago (116 carries for 541 yards and eight touchdowns), Humphries, Wardlow and Ferguson will anchor the line and Barnecut, Norman and Andreini will head up the receiving corps.
“Tyler is a hard-nosed runner with great instincts,” Weaver said. “Quintin returns as a leader on the line, and has developed his skills from a year ago; Zack brings experience and speed to the receiver position; Craig has the ability to make plays; Cohen brings leadership and consistency; Bryce has seen significant time up front; and Alex is a strong kid that returns with Friday night experience.”
The Eagles have some pieces in place. Now, they just have to make plays and play hard.
“The key on offense is discipline and effort,” Weaver said. “We play some tough teams up front and we have to play tough with great discipline. We must take care of the ball and make the most of all our possessions. This group plays really well together. They demand great effort from themselves and each other.”
The defense returns some experience as well, especially along the line where Max Lenz, Ryan Coletta and Humphries will look to wreak havoc.
“Those three guys are battle tested,” the coach said. “They’re very aggressive.”
Other returners include Lucas Ronk and Caden Williams up front, Crotinger, who joins Lenz and Coletta at linebacker, and Jacob Ronk and Norman in the secondary.
“What I like about the defensive unit is that they take great pride in playing as a unit — 11 as one,” Weaver said. “A.J. Leasure, Gordon Rond and Gage Sutton are some younger guys that will fill some roles on defense. They take pride in performing their roles for their unit. This group plays hard and they play tough, physical D.”
Big Walnut opens the season Aug. 30 against host Johnstown-Monroe. The Eagles travel to Buckeye Valley in Week 2, host Shelby and Olentangy Orange after that and smooth out the non-league schedule when they travel to Marysville Sept. 27.
BW opens OCC-Capital play with Newark and Franklin Heights, two teams it beat last season, before finishing with New Albany, Groveport-Madison and Canal Winchester.
“Our schedule is chock-full of great football teams and big challenges,” Weaver said. “Each and every week is a dog fight. We have to be ready to play our best game week in and week out. Every opponent on our schedule regardless of league or not is well coached with great athletes that play hard. We are very excited for the season ahead … we have to prepare and work at a new level to be ready.”