The Worthington Kilbourne football team experienced an adjustment period this season under first-year coach Mike Edwards.
The Wolves finished 1-9 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. They lost their first five games before beating Delaware 36-21 on Oct. 4.
"A transition year was definitely something that I had to experience to understand it," he said. "I understand it now."
Edwards, the third coach in Kilbourne history, had no ties to previous coach Vince Trombetti (2006-18), who started as defensive coordinator under Jeff Gafford (1991-2005) when the school opened.
Following that lineage might be tough in and of itself, but doing it as a first-time head coach was not easy for Edwards.
"This was a transition for a lot of these kids," Edwards said. "It's a brand-new system on defense, a brand-new system on offense and we were trying to establish a little bit different of a culture, not that there was anything wrong with the culture here. Our culture was never bad here at Kilbourne. We've always had a great culture here even before I knew Worthington Kilbourne existed."
Kilbourne is losing 21 seniors, including Sam English (WR), Marcus Hodge (WR), Duncan Selph (TE) and Tyler Turner (WR) on offense. All four had more than 200 yards receiving for the season.
The Wolves also are losing five of their top seven tacklers on defense in seniors Caleb Andrick (DB), Josh Carter (DL), Carter Haase (LB), Manny Herraiz (DB) and Jacob Keslar (DL).
Herraiz had a team-high 48.5 tackles and two sacks and was named first-team all-league and Haase had 47.5 tackles and two sacks and was special mention all-league. Keslar was second-team all-league.
Kilbourne also is losing senior kicker Joey Laudermilch, who made three of five field-goal attempts with a long of 41 yards and converted 11 of 13 extra-point attempts.
"When we execute and play disciplined football and guys make some opportunistic plays, we did some good things all year," Edwards said. "We were unable to do that consistently and that's the story."
Leading the expected returnees on offense are juniors Mitchell Tomasek (QB/P) and Terrique Gray (RB).
Tomasek was 146-for-259 passing for 1,415 yards with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions and Gray rushed for 517 yards and two touchdowns on 145 carries. Tomasek was second-team all-league as quarterback and first-team all-league as punter, averaging 47 yards per punt and having 16 of his 46 punts downed inside the opponents' 20, and Gray was honorable mention all-league.
"It was pretty rough," Gray said. "No one really likes to lose. We all toughed it out and we all love the sport of football.
"We've been told to always have a short memory, so I'm pretty excited and pretty optimistic about next season."
Junior linebackers Brian Wilson (40 tackles) and Harrison Kline (31 tackles) are expected to be the top two returning tacklers.
"This year, everything was so brand new to the kids and even the coaching staff," Edwards said. "Now, we know the kids better. January through March, I didn't even know half the kids' names in the weight room with sports changing. It's going to be a lot easier this year to keep tabs on guys, and now we can see what they can truly do on the football field."