Coach Mark Crabtree was happy for the journey that his Dublin Coffman High School football team made in his 19th season leading the program, but it ended too soon.
The second-seeded Shamrocks lost to fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty 21-7 in the Division I, Region 2 final Nov. 16 at New Albany, falling short of their first regional championship in 11 years.
"You look at (finishing) 11-2 (overall) as being a pretty good season, and we're not discounting that at all," Crabtree said. "When you look at our season, there might have been games that could have gone the other way. But no matter what, you always feel like you want that one more week ... and one more game."
Despite being 8-3 before facing the Shamrocks, Liberty advanced to play Lakewood St. Edward in a state semifinal Nov. 23.
"Playing in a state semifinal against a program like St. (Edward) would have been nice," Crabtree said. "We're thrilled with the senior class and what we were able to do, but we're a little empty right now because the goals were a little short of what we expected. We always want more."
Coffman's only other loss came against Hilliard Davidson, 24-7 on Oct. 12 at home in an OCC-Central Division contest. The Shamrocks finished 4-1 in the league, placing second to the Wildcats (5-0).
In his first season as a starter, senior quarterback Ethan Brown (second-team all-district, first-team all-league) completed 137 of 237 passes for 1,743 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions and rushed for 498 yards and 11 scores on 99 carries.
Brown played behind an offensive line that included seniors Eric Feng, Josh Pittro (special mention all-district, first-team all-league), Devin Zinser (honorable mention all-league) and Zach Zinser (second-team all-district, first-team all-league).
Other key performers in the 23-player senior class included wide receiver Alex Dluzynski (second-team all-league; 31 catches, 281 yards), defensive back Dustin Drye (second-team all-league; 91 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss), defensive lineman Gurbaksh Gill (20 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss), linebacker Ryan Hamilton (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league; 110 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks), slotback Bryce Hostetler (22 catches, 259 yards, 1 TD), defensive lineman Tate Islay (39 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss), defensive back Kameron Meadows (66 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions), kicker/punter Joey Mitchell (first-team all-district kicker, second-team all-league punter; 9-for-12 field goals, 45-for-48 extra points, 41 punts for 38.6-yard average), defensive back Phillip Perez (2 interceptions) and linebacker Noah Smith (second-team all-district, first-team all-league; team-leading 131 tackles, team-leading 11 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks).
"You review things for the (team) banquet, and you look at the seniors you are losing," Crabtree said. "I can tell you with all sincerity that going down (the list of names) kid by kid, it brings a smile to my face because they're good people and lead by example. I'm thrilled to be a part of what these guys have become and what they are all about."
Mike Drennen (first-team all-district and all-league) leads the list of expected returnees. The junior slotback rushed for 801 yards and 11 touchdowns on 162 carries and caught 30 passes for 464 yards and five scores.
"Coming back next year, I definitely need to be more of a leader," Drennen said. "I feel like everything starts and ends with you when you're a senior."
The Shamrocks also expect to return their top receiver in junior Jameel Williamson (34 catches, 497 yards, 4 TDs), top pass-rusher in junior defensive lineman Sebastian Bramonte (special mention all-league; 54 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, team-high 5 sacks, team-high 13 quarterback hurries, 1 interception) and top defensive back in sophomore A.J. Kirk (special mention all-district; 94 tackles, team-high 3 interceptions).
Junior running back Moussa Diallo, who missed five games with a hand injury, also is expected to return after rushing for 534 yards and six touchdowns on 129 carries.
Other expected returnees include junior defensive back Cam Kirk (team-high 14 pass-breakups, 49 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 blocked kick), junior defensive lineman Colton Wolfe (second-team all-league; 23 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), sophomore linebacker Devon Williams (49 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles), junior defensive back Ethan Simpson (43 tackles), sophomore defensive back Bryon Threats (35 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 1 kickoff return for TD, 1 punt return for TD), sophomore defensive lineman Hammond Russell (31 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks) and junior defensive lineman Nick Sayles (21 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack).
"We had some young guys get some experience this year, and the good side of that is that those guys return," Crabtree said.
"We need to make sure when we start talking about next season that we get our players focused on some objectives they need to get them pointed in the right direction."