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Bulldog football seeks continued improvement

By Cort Reynolds

Year two of the Toby Smith regime at Ada sees the Bulldog football program looking to make another stride towards improved competitiveness in 2022.

"The players know a lot more about what to expect from me," Smith offered. "They understand more, so the learning curve is less.

"Last year we had too many 14 year olds playing against 18 year olds," the coach offered. "This year, hopefully we will not have a single freshman starter."

Roster numbers are up to 35 this season, with 14 lettermen back from the 1-9 Ada squad that went 0-7 in Northwest Conference play. Seven starters return on both sides of the ball.

"We are a typical team that doesn't do anything extraordinarily well, nor pedestrian," said Smith. "We do have a group of hard-working kids we hope can keep us in games heading into the fourth quarter."

The quarterback duties will be shared by senior Spencer Wall and sophomore Levi Green, who is cleared after coming off shoulder surgery. The shifty Green gained some valuable fill-in QB experience last season.

Green is a very elusive runner, and Wall is also a good athlete. Wall is bigger, has a stronger throwing arm and can also run well.

"We want to run the football but will spread defenses out to keep them honest," Smith said. "How much we throw will be determined by how many defenders our opponents put in the box. 

"We will throw the ball laterally to stretch the defense with high percentage throws," he continued. "The keys to quarterback play for us are to execute and who takes care of the football best. Wall and Green are similar passers."

The Bulldog offensive line has a lot of experience and good size. "We are very senior-laden on the offensive line," said the coach.

Senior Kyle Mattson will man one tackle spot, with big classmate Gage Hoffer alongside at guard. Senior Grant Preston is also back and will handle the center duties with help from sophomore Colton Cole. 

Veteran Preston suffered a pre-season knee injury and is expected out until at least week three.

Senior Lester Amos is back at the other guard spot, with sophomore Dalton Amos filling the tackle position next to him. 

The slot or H-back position will be shared by sophomores Trevor McGue and Max Puerto.

Powerful running backs Casen Jones and Jalee Bolden will spearhead what could be a very solid Ada running game. Both showed signs of promise in 2021, and have the ability to run over defenders or make them miss.

Sophomore Kaine Fisher returns as a receiver/running back after a fine freshman season. Jones will also see some action at the RB/receiver position.

If not playing QB, Wall will be one of the team's wideout receivers. Accomplished senior Levi Sousley returns at WR, as does quick classmate Jacob Sutherly.

Senior Jayden Bankston and sophomore Rowan West will also contribute at wideout.

On defense, Ada will utilize a 4-2-5 formation. "Defense is about discipline and desire," said Smith. "Right now, our defense is ahead of the offense.

"We will do a lot of rotating on defense," said Smith. "We don't want too many guys going both ways playing all the time. Three players will rotate into two positions on the defensive line."

Hoffer, athletic junior Julian Grose and junior Owen Arnett will share the defensive end positions.

Lester Amos, Dalton Amos, Preston and senior Zach Neiswander will share the two defensive tackle spots.

The inside linebacker positions will be manned by Jones, Bolden, Cole and Puerto. Sousley moves from DB to LB this year, and will share time with Bankston, sophomore Trevor McGue and Wall at the monster linebacker spots.

Ada has five experienced returnees who will comprise the secondary. Fisher, West, Green, Sutherly and sophomore Brody Erickson are all interchangeable at safety and cornerback.

As for special teams, junior Wyatt Green will be the field goal kicker. Jones will serve as holder, with Lester Amos the snapper. 

Puerto is expected to handle the kick-off duties. Wyatt Green will punt with Lester Amos the long snapper. 

A promising group led by Jones, Fisher, Levi Green, Sousley and freshman Kayleb Hickman will share the punt and kickoff return duties. 

"Our desire to be successful is where it needs to be, but our execution needs to improve," Smith warned.

"I honestly don't look at it," said Smith when asked who the NWC favorite is, or where Ada fits in the league race.

"We just have to focus on competing every snap. Last season we were in games as the season wore on, we got more competitive."

Ada starts the season with three non-league home games vs. Waynesfield-Goshen, Arlington and Hardin Northern. County rival HN was the lone team Ada beat last season in week three.

The Bulldogs lost the opener 28-0 to W-G August 19.

"It would be great to be in every game," Smith summed up. "We can be in most games. We just want to see improvement and progression."


Ada football 2022 at a glance: Div. VII, Region 26

2021 record: 1-9, 0-7 NWC

Head coach: Toby Smith, 2nd year

Roster numbers: 35

Lettermen back: 14

Starters back: 7 offense, 7 defense

Top returning offensive players: Sr. QB/WR Spencer Wall, Sr. OL Gage Hoffer, Sr. OL Lester Amos, Sr. C Grant Preston, Sr. WR Levi Sousley Sr. RB Casen Jones, Jr. RB Jalee Bolden, So. OL Dalton Amos, So. Levi Green, So. RB/R Kaine Fisher.

Top returning defenders: Sr. DL Hoffer, DT Lester/Dalton Amos, Sr. DL Zach Neiswander, DBs Fisher, Sousley, L. Green, Rowan West, Jacob Sutherly, LBs Wall, Jones, Bolden, Colton Cole, Max Puerto. 




The Ada varsity football team, from left, front row: Jayden Bankston, 
Spencer Wall, Casen Jones, Gage Hoffer, Levi Sousley, Lester Amos.

Row 2: Kyle Mattson, Grant Preston, Jacob Sutherly, Brody Erickson, 
Wyatt Green, Zach Neiswander.

Row 3: Braden Smith, Levi Green, Max Puerto, Colton Cole, Kaine 
Fisher, Dalton Amos, Ian House, Avery Connor.

Row 4: Zach Zimmerman, Rowan West, Gavin Oldfield, Kayleb Hickman, 
Trevor McGue, Jalee Bolden, Trevor Dirmeyer, Aiden Richie.

Row 5: Richard Moed, Owen Arnett, Brady Sloan, Jayden Shannon, Slade 
Gossman, Landon Simon, Julian Grose.

Back: head coach Toby Smith, assistant coaches Britton Devier, Garrett 
Fleming, Sean Anderson, Michael Allen, Joe Wolber, Ryan Ormsbee, Scott 

The Ada football returning lettermen, from left, front: Kyle Mattson, 
Spencer Wall, Casen Jones, Gage Hoffer, Levi Sousley, Lester Amos.
Middle row: Rowan West, Grant Preston, Jaylee Bolden, Dalton Amos, 
Julian Grose.
Back: Max Puerto, Levi Green, Kaine Fisher.

Ada football coaches, from left, front: Ryan Ormsbee, head coach Toby 
Smith, Michael Allen, Garrett Fleming.

Back: Sean Anderson, Joe Wolber, Britton Devier, Scott Jones.