One might think that Big Walnut High School football coach Joe Weaver would prefer to see his players focus solely on football during the offseason.
The reality, however, is that Weaver encourages his players to participate in other sports. And when spring rolls around, he knows he can find most of his players on a baseball or lacrosse field or competing in track and field.
"In the offseason, we have a lot of kids in other sports, and I want them to play those sports," he said. "To me, it's just as important for kids to get out and compete as it is to lift weights. The students here at Big Walnut work their tail off. If they're not on another team (in the offseason), they're in the weight room."
Quarterback and defensive back Tyler Beam jumped right into basketball once the football team ended last season with a 42-14 loss to Uniontown Lake in a Division II regional final on Nov. 19. As soon as the boys basketball team ended this past season with a 57-30 loss to Centennial in the second round of the Division II district tournament on Feb. 25, the junior turned his attention to baseball.
"The only thing I do for football (during the winter and spring) is try to get into the weight room two or three days a week, but it's hard to do that (playing basketball and baseball)," Beam said. "Once baseball's over sometime in May, I'll start lifting with the (football) team and do some throwing with some receivers to get my timing down."
Weaver plans to use some of the 10 offseason coaching days allotted by the OHSAA for 7-on-7 passing drills with other teams.
"Typically we have them in July, but we have one in June this year," he said. "It's a good opportunity for kids to see competition outside of (intrasquad scrimmages) before two-a-days start (in August)."
Last season, Big Walnut finished 10-3 overall and went 5-2 in the OCC-Capital Division to tie Mount Vernon and Olentangy Orange for second, behind New Albany (7-0) and ahead of Watkins Memorial (3-4), Delaware Hayes (2-5), Hilliard Bradley (1-6) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
The Golden Eagles will lose 13 seniors to graduation, including 10 regular starters. Among those expected to return are 12 players who started or saw significant playing time last fall in Beam, juniors Garrett Dandrea (LB), Trent Fielding (OL), Lucas Garcia (RB), Jason Griffith (DL), Joey Johnson (RB/DB), Tyler McKenzie (OL), Brandon Sholl (OL), Nick Shryock (RB/DB) and Seth Wandling (WR) and sophomores Gabe Kitchen (WR) and Seth Myers (DB).
Last season, Beam completed 58 of 133 passes for 694 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions and rushed for 783 yards and six touchdowns on 126 carries. Garcia rushed for 761 yards and seven touchdowns on 152 carries.
"Anytime you return experience from Friday night, it's a perk because there's no substitute for that experience," Weaver said. "We're losing quality players, but we also have quality players coming back."
"I look at all the guys we have coming back, I've been playing with them since sixth grade," Beam said. "I'm definitely excited about next season."