Goals like winning a league championship and making the playoffs were among those achieved by West Jefferson last season -- despite having just seven seniors.

But that didn't equate to complete satisfaction for a program that routinely has reached those achievements under coach Shawn Buescher, who is in his 18th season.

"With the standard we've set, there's a high bar," Buescher said. "It was a good year for our kids, and any time you make the playoffs and win the league title it's a successful season, but we want to aspire for more. It's a pretty good group. They're big, physical and love the weight room, so we're excited."

The Roughriders went 8-3 overall and shared the Ohio Heritage Conference-North Division title with Fairbanks at 4-1 ahead of Mechanicsburg and West Liberty-Salem (3-2 each), North Lewisburg Triad (1-4) and Springfield Northeastern (0-5).

Fairbanks and Mechanicsburg both made the Division VI playoffs and West Liberty-Salem went 7-3.

West Jefferson, which lost to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy 49-42 in the first round of the Division V, Region 20 playoffs and remain in the same region, have added an OHC crossover game Sept. 13 against Jamestown Greeneview. The Rams went 10-2 and also made the Region 20 playoffs last year but have moved down to Division VI.

Ready, which went 4-6 but beat the Roughriders and have a new coach in Joel Cutler, remain on the schedule (Sept. 6).

The return of standouts like senior first-team all-district running back Gabe Jones, senior two-way lineman Shane Bumgardner and sophomore quarterback Tyler Buescher, the coach's son, has the Roughriders believing they can build on the program's past success.

West Jefferson has made nine playoff appearances under coach Buescher, including a trip to a Division V state semifinal in 2013.

The Roughriders were Region 20 runners-up in 2017 when they went 12-1.

"We're coming together really well," Bumgardner said. "We've got a senior-dominated offensive line. It's been pretty smooth because everyone has done it before and we've all played with each other, so we can hold each other accountable without getting angry."


Jones is excited about how "everything has clicked with" a roster that should feature about a dozen key seniors.

Last season, Jones rushed for 1,426 yards and 17 touchdowns in support of a quarterback rotation of 2019 graduate Justin Williams and Tyler Buescher, who finished 51-for-93 passing for 1,001 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Coach Buescher is thrilled with an offensive line that will feature five seniors.

That group includes Josh Hahn (left tackle), Brenton Robertson (left guard), Bumgardner (center), Corey Hart (right guard) and Jon Stevenson (right tackle). Bumgardner has been offered by Tiffin University.

"(The offensive line is) the heart and soul of our football team," coach Buescher said. "We hold them to a high standard. As they continue to progress we've got a chance to be pretty good up there. They hold each other accountable, are a tight-knit group and want to do whatever they can to be successful."

Junior Tyler Oberle, who also serves as the backup quarterback, will lead the receiving corps.

Tyler Buescher is a pocket passer who "does a good job of getting us in the right place," according to his father.


With about 70 athletes overall, West Jefferson believes its depth should give it options on a defense anchored by senior linebacker Zach Hahn, senior end Josh Hahn and junior end Dylan Lambert. Hahn was one of the leading tacklers last season.

Bumgardner, Hart, Robertson and Stevenson all will see time at tackle along with junior Gabe Trein in a 4-2-5 set.

Senior Trent Eitel will be at cornerback, with junior Adam Hitzman and senior Justin Hooker seeing time at the other cornerback spot.

Sophomore M.J. Book, junior Blade Wolf, Oberle and Jones all should see action at safety.

"I feel good about our size up front and I feel like we're fairly athletic on the back half," coach Buescher said. "Fortunately a lot of those kids got reps. For as young as we were last year, we achieved about what I thought we would."


Sophomores Aiden Clerico and Mason Corditte battled during the preseason for the kicking job that was held last season by 2019 graduate Nathaniel Dersom, who made 41 extra points and four field goals.

Clerico made one extra point last season.

Taking over at punter for Williams, who averaged 39 yards per kick, will be Book or Jones.

Jones also averaged more than 25 yards on 16 kickoff returns and should be among those in that role again along with Oberle and junior Gavin Frybarger.

Jones also returned 13 punts last season, including one for a touchdown during the playoff loss.



Quarterbacks: *Tyler Buescher (so., 5-11, 150), Tyler Oberle (jr., 5-11, 165)

Running backs: *Gabe Jones (sr., 5-9, 175), *Dylan Lambert (jr., 5-11, 225), Gavin Frybarger (jr., 5-8, 160), Zach Hahn (sr., 5-10, 180)

Receivers: *Oberle, M.J. Book (so., 6-3, 185), Adam Hitzman (jr., 5-8, 150), Justin Hooker (sr., 6-1, 165), Ben Kronk (sr., 5-7, 140), Kyle Scott (jr., 5-10, 150), Blade Wolf (jr., 5-10, 150)

Tight ends: *Carson Smith (sr., 5-11, 175), Jarrett Simmons (so., 6-0, 180)

Linemen: *Shane Bumgardner (sr., 6-2, 285), *Josh Hahn (sr., 6-2, 260), *Corey Hart (sr., 6-0, 290), *Brenton Robertson (sr., 5-10, 285), *Jon Stevenson (sr., 6-4, 305)


Linemen: *Josh Hahn, *Lambert, Bumgardner, Hart, Ethan Miller (so., 5-10, 185), Robertson, Simmons, Smith, Stevenson, Gabe Trein (jr., 5-10, 230), Nick West (jr., 6-2, 195),

Linebackers: *Tommy Fuller (sr., 5-10, 195), *Zach Hahn, Matthew Chriszt (jr., 5-10, 180), Korbin Keith (jr., 5-9, 175)

Secondary: *Trent Eitel (sr., 6-0, 170), Book, Hitzman, Hooker, Jones, Oberle, Hayden Salyer (so., 5-10, 160), Wolf

Special teams

Kickers: Aiden Clerico (so., 5-8, 140), Mason Corditte (so., 6-0, 150)

Punters: Book, Jones

Returners: *Jones, *Oberle, Frybarger

Long snappers: Zach Hahn, Keith

(*Denotes projected starter)