Longtime assistant Harris begins year #1 as head coach of West Branch


West Branch named Ken Harris head coach in late-January

Ken Harris was named head coach of the program in late-January

BELOIT, Ohio (WKBN) – In late-January, West Branch named former alum and school guidance counselor Ken Harris their varsity football coach. Harris has worked as an assistant in the program so the familiarity among the coach and his players is there. Harris says, “Don’t make the game complicated and focus on the fundamentals. Put the players in the best position to have success and stay the course. Not sure being a first-year head coach or a 30-year assistant would make a difference in those beliefs. The best teams are almost always the ones that do the fundamentals best.”

West Branch Warriors
Head Coach: Ken Harris, 1st season
2018 record (EBC): 6-4 (3-3), T-3rd place
Five Key Points
1.During their 6-1 start a year ago, West Branch was outscoring their opponents by an average of 35.9 to 15.3. Over their last 3 games, they were toppled by an average of 29.3 to 16.
2.For the 3rd time in the past 5 years, West Branch finished with a winning record last fall.
3.The defense saw a decrease in the amount of points allowed from 2017 (315) to 2018 (195) of 12 points per game.
4.West Branch is 1-7 in their last 8 games in October. Go back even further and you’ll find that they’re 3-11 in October games dating back to the day before Halloween 2015.
5.Warriors last advanced to the playoffs in 2007.

Scoring Offense: 29.9
Rushing Yards: 261.4
Passing Yards: 87.0
Total Yards: 348.4
…The Warriors have the pieces in place to excel on offense. The team’s starting quarterback Brock Hillyer (870 passing yards, 8 TDs; 499 rushing yards, 8 TDs) is back along with his favorite target David McKeivier (21 catches, 418 yards, 5 YDs) and their second leading rusher Gage Bickley (556 rushing yards, 3 TDs). The lone returning starter up front Max Craig will move over to play center this fall.

“We may only have one returning starter up front but we’re senior heavy along the line,” indicates coach Harris. “In year’s past, that’s been very helpful. We ask all of our o-line to learn multiple positions so that we’re able to get the best five on the field. Learning is so important and the offensive linemen at West Branch know that. They’ll rise to the challenge. Our skill players will be the key to the offense. They’ll have to gel quickly, understand a new system and terminology. We, as coaches, are going to have to do a great job of teaching.”

Scoring Defense: 19.5
Rushing Yards: 165.6
Passing Yards: 105.5
Total Yards: 271.1
…The return of their 3rd (Jacob Hurst, DT) and 4th (Hunter Makcen, DE) leading tacklers from a year ago will help the unit.

“A key component of how our defense progresses is the play of the defensive line,” states Harris. “We have to be able to pressure the opposing quarterbacks with the down players. We feel that we have some players up front that will be able to do that. I think this year’s NFL draft shows how important good defensive line play is (11 defensive linemen were taken in the 1st round). Obviously, a priority for NFL teams but also true at our level. Just as an offense, there will be some great competition for defensive positions.”

Aug. 30 – at Woodridge
Sept. 6 – at Girard
Sept. 13 – Struthers
Sept. 20 – at Alliance
Sept. 27 – Minerva
Oct. 4 – Carrollton
Oct. 11 – at Canton South
Oct. 18 – West Holmes
Oct. 25 – Marlington
Nov. 1 – at Salem

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