The Worthington Kilbourne High School football team has had back-to-back sub-par seasons.
As a result, veteran coach Vince Trombetti is challenging his players to put in the work during the offseason.
"Weight-lifting and conditioning are big parts to this sport, and those who are not willing to put in the effort to improve in those areas are not going to be with us next season," said Trombetti, who completed his 12th season leading the Wolves. "The ones who had good seasons this year are the ones who put in the work during the offseason.
"You could tell by the second half of the season the ones who didn't were tired and sluggish and the bumps and bruises really took a toll on their bodies."
The Wolves finished 3-7 overall, marking their first losing season since going 3-7 in 2012. They followed up that season with three consecutive Division II playoff appearances before finishing 5-5 in 2016.
Kilbourne lost its final four games this season, with the last three coming against playoff teams in Hilliard Darby (17-3 on Oct. 13), Hilliard Bradley (63-21 on Oct. 19) and Dublin Jerome (24-7 on Oct. 27).
The Wolves went 2-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to finish fifth, behind Bradley (6-0), Jerome (5-1), Darby (4-2) and Dublin Scioto (3-3) and ahead of Delaware (1-5) and Thomas (0-6).
"I was definitely not pleased with the season," Trombetti said. "Despite the difficulty of our schedule, we were not as competitive as I thought we should be with several of our opponents. Our points of emphasis in the offseason will be to do a better job in the weight room and to increase the number of members on our team."
The Wolves are losing 23 seniors, including Ryan Hester (DB), Roen McCullough (DL), Michael McQuade (RB), Ben Morgan (OL), Isaac Morgan (DB), Thomas Nowlin (DL), Noah Reed (LB), D'Angelo Rosales (OL), Mitchell Rosenfeld (DL), Nick Streets (DB), Tyler Ward (DB), Parker Wereb (QB/WR), Ryan Wesolowski (DB) and Thomas Wilson (LB).
Wilson set program records for most tackles in a season (146), in a career (448) and in a game (25), most solo tackles in a season (72) and in a career (165) and most sacks in a career (15). He also averaged 40.4 yards per punt on 54 kicks, including 29 inside the 20-yard line. He was named first-team all-league on defense and as a punter.
Wesolowski, who had 111 tackles, including 38 solo, and Ward, who had 79 tackles with 28 solo, were second-team all-league, while McQuade, who rushed for 149 yards, caught 19 passes for 119 yards and scored four touchdowns, was special mention all-league.
McCullough, who had 60 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, was honorable mention all-league.
"We had a good group of athletes in the senior class," Trombetti said. "What we did not have was enough leadership to bring the team along the way that was needed. You don't need to be a screamer and a yeller to be a leader, but you do have to be able to approach teammates when things are not going well and take a positive approach to remedy the situation. You also need to be able to take care of business in the classroom."
Among the expected returnees are juniors Gavin Baker (WR), Kyle Bartok (OL), Kaleb Dave (DL), Cole Dyer (LB), Joey McQuade (WR), R.J. Meehan (OL), Sam Schick (OL), Nick Streets (LB), Grayson Timms (QB) and Elijah Young (RB) and sophomores Caleb Andrick (RB/DB) and Joey Laudermilch (K).
Dave, who had 69 tackles, was named first-team all-league. Young had 1,076 all-purpose yards, including 633 rushing on 134 carries, and was second-team all-league.
Timms threw for 560 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 169 yards. Joey McQuade had 17 catches for 318 yards and two touchdowns, and Baker had 13 receptions for 215 yards and four touchdowns.
Dyer had 67 tackles, including seven for loss.
"I am excited with the amount of experience that we have coming back, provided we do a better job with our offseason preparation," Trombetti said.