BELOIT, Ohio (WKBN) – West Branch won back-to-back league championships last fall for the first time in over twenty years (1998-99).

This past January, the EBC’s reigning Coach of the Year Ken Harris resigned from his head coaching position after enjoying a 21-3 record over the past two seasons.

Stepping in is the team’s offensive coordinator for each of the past two campaigns, Tim Cooper – a Western Reserve graduate and an alum of Waynesburg University.

“The reception has been very welcoming,” indicates Cooper. “Maintaining most of our staff and establishing the direction of our program the last several years made a smooth transition. We’ll have around eighty plus kids (in grades 9-12). They’ve taken everything we’ve thrown at them this off-season in stride and continue to improve.”

The Warriors graduated nine seniors who were named to the All-EBC including five First-Team selections (Caleb Adams, Jaxon Hendershott, Steven Marra, Greg Rothwell, Nick Wilson).

However, the league’s Player of the Year Dru DeShields is back for his senior season. DeShields completed 67.6% of his passes (259-383) for 3659 yards and 41 touchdowns. Number 12 also ran for 1126 yards and 16 scores. Christian Martig caught 49 passes for 687 yards (14 avg).

The coaching staff is expecting Mike Kanagy (166 receiving yards) and Beau Alazaus to step into larger roles on offense this season. Also, there’s much excitement in regard to their sophomore class which is led by Boston Mulinix (161 rushing yards, 3 TDs), Anthony Perry (6 catches) and Joey Jackson (54 receiving yards).

Coach Cooper will continue to call the plays for his offense. “We’re very confident that we can continue to have success. Our kids believe in our system and way of doing things, it is the culture that we have in place.”

The offense returns their right side of the line with Mitchell Coffee (RT) and Conner Mayle (RG) and their left tackle Luke Greschaw.

“We look for [Mike] Kanagy to be our catalyst on defense,” says Cooper. “He stepped in last season after an injury to Jed Smith and had nearly 90 tackles in a short period of time. He’s a tough kid who worked his tail off this off-season. We’re also expecting Trent Stryffeler and Nate Summers to step up on that side of the ball also.”

Seniors Thomas Egli and Mitch Coffee will help anchor the defensive front as Dru DeShields will roam the secondary once again.

West Branch will welcome Canfield in week one for one of the most anticipated games among the area’s early season slate.

West Branch Warriors
Fast Facts
Head Coach: Tim Cooper, 1st season
2021 Record: 13-1 (6-0), 1st place in EBC
Last 5 Years: 32-22 (59.3%)
Home Field: Clinton Heacock Stadium
League: Eastern Buckeye Conference
Base Offense: Spread
Base Defense: 4-4

Returning Starters
Offense: 5
Defense: 4

2021 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 46.8 (2nd in Area)
Scoring Defense: 23.1 (24th in Area)
Total Offense: 466.9
Rushing Offense: 187.6
Passing Offense: 279.4
Total Defense: 293.4

2021 Individual Leaders
Passing: Dru DeShields – 3659 yards, 67.6% (259-383), 41 TDs
Rushing: Steven Marra – 1273 yards, 5.8 avg, 30 TDs
Receiving: Nick Wilson – 1385 yards, 15.6 avg, 22 TDs

2021 Results
Ursuline 64 Warriors 35*
Warriors 26 Perry 19*
Warriors 33 Poland 21*
Warriors 45 CVCA 8*
Warriors 43 Salem 42 OT
Warriors 77 Minerva 0
Warriors 50 Alliance 27
Warriors 43 Carrollton 12
Warriors 37 Howland 34
Warriors 63 Canton South 42
Warriors 61 Marlington 18
Warriors 48 Revere 6
Warriors 48 Woodridge 24
Warriors 47 East Liverpool 6

2021 EBC Standings
West Branch – 6-0 (13-1)
Carrollton – 4-2 (8-4)
Salem – 3-3 (8-4)
Canton South – 3-3 (7-4)
Alliance – 3-3 (3-7)
Marlington – 2-4 (3-7)
Minerva – 0-6 (0-10)

2022 Schedule
Aug. 19 – Canfield
Aug. 26 – Woodridge
Sept. 2 – at Revere
Sept. 9 – Ridgewood
Sept. 16 – at Howland
Sept. 23 – Minerva
Sept. 30 – at Marlington
Oct. 7 – at Alliance
Oct. 14 – at Carrollton
Oct. 22 – Salem