Posting their second straight winning campaign, the Waterford Wildcats certainly enjoyed the 2011 season.
But they didn't enjoy it nearly as much as they might've.
The Wildcats lost by a single touchdown to playoff bound Trimble shortly after losing their starting running back to an injury and had playoff bound South Gallia on the ropes as the Rebels led by a single score with only minutes to go in the ninth week of the season before late touchdowns secured a 27-7 win.
So 2011 was a good year for the Wildcats, but it certainly could have been great.
"We were right there with a couple teams ... We didn't quite get any upsets," noted Waterford football coach Chad Ross. "We're pretty pleased with having back-to-back winning seasons. It was a nice way to send the seniors out."
Finishing 2011 with a 6-4 record, the Wildcats were one of six teams in the Southeast District Division VI to post winning records, and four Waterford players earned all-district honors for the success they enjoyed on the gridiron.
Senior left tackle Kendrick Schwendeman, senior quarterback Trevor Lang and junior wide receiver Brian Moore were all accorded first team by the district while linebacker Hunter Munjas was honorable mention.
The four were part of a group of nine Washington County players honored by the Southeast District, in a vote according to a media panel.
Schwendeman, a 5-11, 209-pound tackle, who earned the nickname "Nasty" for his potent blocks, had 49 pancake blocks this season as one of the top lineman in the area. He graded out at 96 percent for the 2011 season.
He was also a four-year starter for Waterford, having started 40 games in his high school career.
"Kendrick Schwendeman played in 160 out of 160 quarters here at Waterford. He's a warrior. He's a true throwback player that enjoys to play the game of football and comes every day," Ross said.
The leading player on the offensive line, Schwendeman was responsible for blocking for a record setting quarterback in Lang and protecting a revolving corps of running backs this fall as injuries short-circuited the original offensive plan.
In all, Waterford ran plays to the left side of the field behind Schwendeman roughly 75 percent of the time, Ross noted.
"A lot of times if I'd call a play to the right Kendrick just looked at me, like why am I calling a play to the right," Ross laughed.
One of the players to benefit from having Schwendeman on the line was Lang.
Lang, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior, holds most of the career passing records at Waterford High School after serving as the signal caller for the past three seasons.
A year ago Lang set the single season passing mark, and this fall he continued to impress as he now holds the career passing record with 3,034 passing yards.
On the gridiron this fall, Lang completed 82-of-154 passes for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also intercepted just six times.
"One of the main stats I thought he had, and I was just looking at it the other day, is he had a 53 percent passing rate for his career, which is pretty good," Ross said. "He played within our offense. He knew our offense extremely well."
Lang was more than just a precision passer, particularly this fall.
Asked to make more plays with his legs this year, Lang rushed for 221 yards on 68 carries and five more touchdowns.
When the Wildcats needed a leader, he was there for that, too.
After starting running back Matt West suffered a knee injury that would require surgery against Federal Hocking, Ross knew his team needed a big play to reign in the emotions of losing one of their stars.
Looking to his senior signal caller, Ross asked that from Lang and he delivered. Running the option, Lang scampered 60 yards to the end zone for a touchdown to secure the win.
"That was a signature play from Trevor Lang," Ross said.
Lang's primary target this fall was Moore, a 6-foot, 166-pound junior.
Moore not only played receiver this fall, when West got hurt he stepped in for a couple games at running back before moving back to receiver down the stretch.
Even with the brief move to running back, Moore still had 41 catches for 555 yards and seven TDs. He also rushed for 260 yards on 50 carries.
"The last couple years in our offense we have always had a guy that has been a multi-talent guy. We had (Cody) Strahler, Levi McCutcheon, and Brian Moore kind of took that position," Ross praised.
Filling a variety of roles, Moore became a pleasant surprise at receiver as the Wildcats had to fill all of the wideout slots as the entire receiving corps graduated from the 2010 campaign when Lang set the single season passing mark.
"We knew we had a great quarterback coming into the season, but we didn't know if we'd be able to throw the ball at all because of all the receivers gone," Ross said. "He (Moore) had over 40 catches and he was able to lineup at tailback for us and run the football some and be effective, and really was Trevor's main target."
Along with the three first team selections, the Wildcats also had Munjas, a 6-3, 177-pound junior linebacker, earn honorable mention.
Munjas led the Wildcats in tackles with 96 while also posting 17 tackles for loss, forcing two fumbles and recovering two more.
"He has great closing speed," Ross said. "He can really close down on running backs."
The quartet of Wildcats were joined by four Warren Warriors honored by the district panel and a single Marietta Tiger.
Marietta senior running back Dustin "Dedder" Baker was accorded first team by the district after rushing for 853 yards this fall. Baker also posted 138 tackles defensively.
Moving to the East Central Ohio League, the Tigers struggled to a 2-8 campaign but the versatile Baker, who is 5-11, 190 pounds, emerged as a running threat in every game.
Finishing 5-5 for the second straight year, the Warriors had two players receive first-team from the district while another pair were honorable mention.
Standout wide receiver Jeremy Fivecoait and linebacker Austin Henthorn both received first-team all-district status while Jeremy Hastie and Dustin Harlow were honorable mention.
Fivecoait, a 6-3, 210-pound senior, had 58 catches for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns in the Warriors' pass based offense. The speedy wideout accounted for over half of the passing yards for Warren this fall.
Henthorn, a 6-foot, 220-pound senior, tied for the team lead in tackles with 148, including 73 solo. He also led the team in sacks with nine for 83 yards lost and posted 14 tackles for a loss. Henthorn recovered two fumbles for the Warriors defensively as well.
Along with Henthorn, Harlow, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound noseguard, also tied for the team lead in tackles with 148, including 68 solo.
Harlow had eight sacks for 23 yards lost and also posted 11 tackles for loss, forced two fumbles, recovered another and had one interception against Phillip Barbour in the final game of the season.
A 5-9, 165-pound senior, Hastie had a tremendous effect on both sides of the ball for the Warriors this fall.
As a wide receiver Hastie had 43 catches for 474 yards and four touchdowns and he also rushed for 365 yards on 84 attempts for four more TDs. Defensively, Hastie had 35 tackles, including 24 solo, and intercepted six opposing passes while returning two of them for touchdowns.
Hastie began the year as a wide receiver, but moved to quarterback for the Logan game after a knee injury to regular starter Dylan Leffingwell and moved to running back for the final game of the season.
Neither Marietta football coach Bob Springer or Warren football coach Andy Schob returned calls from The Marietta Times seeking comment.