QB DeShields poised for another banner year as West Branch prepares for 2017


2017 West Branch Football Preview

Head Coach: D.J. Dota, 7th season at West Branch (29-31)
Last Season: 5-5 (4-3), T-3rd place in NBC
Division: III (Region 9)

More:High School Football previews from other teams

The Good News
Last year, West Branch only turned the ball over 7 times (6 interceptions, 1 fumble lost) while accumulating 347 yards of offense in each outing. West Branch will have T.J. DeShields back at quarterback after a stellar 2016 season which saw him throw for 2063 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 180 of 279 passes. That completion percentage (64.5%) is the best of all returning quarterbacks in the area from last year. He’ll welcome back receiver Kyle Linhart – who snagged 20 passes for 257 yards. On defense, the Warriors return two of their standouts in Cole Pittman (111 tackles, 2 sacks) and junior defensive back Thomas Caserta. Last winter, West Branch’s defense forced 15 turnovers.

On April 6, the Warriors learned that they would be bumped up to Division III due to the competitive balance.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 25 – at Crestview, 7
Sept. 2 – at Beaver Local, 7
Sept. 8 – at Southeast, 7
Sept. 15 – at Alliance, 7
Sept. 22 – Minerva, 7
Sept. 29 – Carrollton, 7
Oct. 6 – at Canton South, 7
Oct. 13 – Louisville, 7
Oct. 20 – Marlington, 7
Oct. 28 – at Salem, 7

More:High School Football schedules from other teams

Challenges
Arguably one of the best receivers in school history – Brett Butcher – departs Beloit after a brilliant season. Butcher set offensive records with most receptions in a season (76) and most catches in a single game (13). Butcher closed out the year with 865 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. He also had 161 return yards on 13 attempts. If that wasn’t enough, Rob Lozier – the Warriors’ leading rusher (1045 yards, 13 TDs) – also graduated this past Spring as well. The team will look to replace linemen Ian Sharp and Mitchell Craig upfront.

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 46.1% (47-55)
Playoff Appearances: 1
Playoff Record: 1-1
League Championships:1 (2012)
League Record: 33-37

2016 Results
Warriors 27 Salem 0
Marlington 21 Warriors 13
Warriors 42 Canton South 40
Louisville 44 Warriors 20
Alliance 34 Warriors 24
Warriors 28 Carrollton 21
Warriors 41 Minerva 7
Southeast 20 Warriors 0
Warriors 47 Beaver Local 7
Crestwood 39 Warriors 26

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 26.8 (28th in Area)
Total Offense: 347.4
Passing Offense: 211.2
Rushing Offense: 136.2
Scoring Defense: 23.3 (31st in Area)
Total Defense: 331.2
Passing Defense: 115.0
Rushing Defense: 216.2
…West Branch has averaged 26-points or better on offense over the last three years (2016: 26.8; 2015: 27.2; 2014: 26.3).

2018 Eastern Buckeye Conference
Alliance
Canton South
Carrollton
Marlington
Minerva
Salem
West Branch

Key Number
Despite playing in the tough Northeastern Buckeye Conference, West Branch has fared well over the last three years in league play, posting a 14-7 record during that time span (2014-16).

Featured Stat
Last 2 years, 1,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher:
2016: T.J. DeShields (2063 passing yards)/Rob Lozier (1045 rushing yards)
2015: T.J. DeShields (1157 passing yards)/Trae Hillyer (1474 rushing yards)