A former college quarterback is now in charge of the Talawanda Braves, doing double duty as head coach and offensive coordinator.
That combination of factors gives J.D. Vonderheide a real insight into building an offense and he started with the guys in front of his old position—the line.
“You build from the core,” he said. “With time, they will do a really, really nice job working as a unit. This group has really developed. We ask a lot of that group.”
Vonderheide said he saw a lot of promise on the line in preseason practice and now with a game under their belts, he feels confident they are ready to step up. Working at right guard are senior Cody Bulach and junior Justin Glaab. Junior Alex Logsdon is projected at center for the season with sophomore Mason Fox as left guard and junior Troy Mabis at left tackle.
Sophomore Dalton Smith is a player Vonderheide said could play three positions but will likely play guard or center.
As a former college quarterback at Miami University, Vonderheide put junior Colin Kimiecik as the starter at quarterback. After the first day of practice July 30, Vonderheide said he had three promising quarterbacks but that number was down to two after the coaches moved junior Jon Abshire to wide receiver.
“He gives us depth,” Vonderheide said of Abshire. “He’s too good an athlete to sit behind somebody. He gives us depth at wide receiver and he will play some safety on defense. Jon could step back in (at quarterback) if we need him.”
The first-year Talawanda head coach said he is pleased with the hard work and ability Kimiecik brings to his former position.
“Colin has done a great job of leading the offense. He is a leader. I’m pleased with where we are at quarterback,” the coach said recently. “We have a capable backup with (sophomore) Connor Scott. He may play some varsity. That’s my baby, my position. I am very, very pleased. They are good kids, good leaders and willing learners.”
The switch of Abshire to wide receiver gives the Braves a talented crew at that position and Vonderheide said he feels good about mix at that position with junior Christian Jones, senior Austin Lee and senior Steve Daugherty included, the coach calling them “very solid.”
Junior Dakota Byrd will be in the center of the action for the Braves this season and Vonderheide projects him as a stalwart for the Braves.
“We saw what we wanted in the (August 10) scrimmage (at Miamisburg),” Vonderheide said. “He’s a two-way guy who does a great job in all facets—offense, defense and special teams.”
On offense, Byrd is projected as a tailback but the new coach said close on his heels for that spot is sophomore Maurice Thomas, who returned the opening kickoff in their opener against Monroe last Friday 81 yards for a touchdown.
“Dakota is an all-around back. Maurice is a little different,” he said. “I call them Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside. Maurice is developing nicely. He had 150 yards in the scrimmage at Miamisburg. We are developing him and want it to evolve to getting both of them in a game to save them. He has stepped up.”
At tight end, Vonderheide has sophomore Eric Mincy as the starter, saying, “He has unbelievable potential. He can give us a spark and create mismatches.”
Also expected to see some playing time at tight end are sophomore Andrew Wilson and senior Ben Hines.