Coach Dave Wirth's first season at Covington Catholic would be viewed, at least by most, as a success. The coach seemed to have the program on the same page for the first time in a while and went 6-6 against a tough schedule in a year that they were replacing a lot of graduated talent.
This year the expectations for the Colonels are higher as they have a much deeper talent pool that gained experience at the varsity level last season coming back.
The second year in Wirth's system also has the Park Hills faithful hoping for bigger and better things in 2010.
2009 RECORD: 6-6, 2-1 NKY 5A
COACHING: As mentioned Coach Wirth returns for his second season as the head football coach at CovCath after compiling a 6-6 record last year in his first year. He came over last season after coaching at Badin for five years where he had a 27-25 record.
Last season Wirth made a smart move by bringing legendary former head coach Lynn Ray back on staff. Ray's backing is bigger than anyone's that you could have when it comes to CovCath football.
Todd Naumann is the defensive coordinator for the Colonels and will have really high expectations coming into the season with a talented group. Matt Roberts is the offensive coordinator and will have to work to figure out the offense's identity after losing a large part of their offense from last season with the graduation of quarterback Brayden Erpenbeck.
OFFENSE: As mentioned the big question mark coming into the season is how the Colonels will replace Erpenbeck. His ability to tuck the ball and run accounted for a large percentage of the Colonels offensive productivity a season ago and there is no clear cut leader to step up and be his replacement.
Junior-to-be Brady Reese probably has the inside track, though sophomore Blake Bir could have a chance. Incoming freshman Sam Dressman has the coaches impressed with his physical tools, but in all likelihood the Colonels won't throw him into the fire as a freshman.
The Colonels will try to hang their hat on their running game this season. They have a stable of backs that are capable of getting results and Coach Wirth seems content to platoon them all and let them each contribute in different ways. Leo Schafer, Alex Slabaugh and Gabe Gray combined for over 1,800 yards on the ground last season and will get even more opportunities this season.
DEFENSE: Coach Wirth expects the Colonels to be improved on the defensive side of the football and says that they should be faster and "flying to the ball."
Troy Timmerman anchors the Colonels defensive line and already has four Division-I offers from Murray State, Kent State, Marshall and Buffalo.
Schafer will be playing both sides of the ball this year all the time and should really help the Colonels out at linebacker. Sprinkle in a solid returning secondary and the Colonels should have the defense to keep them in games.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Evan Talkers will likely return as the Colonels placekicker after a solid season last year. Look for Adam Shumate to have the inside track as the Colonels' punter, despite them using multiple players to do the job a season ago.
Aug. 20 - vs. Ryle (at Nippert Stadium) - 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 28 - @Lexington Catholic (Bluegrass Bowl) - 8:30 p.m.
Sep. 11 - CAMPBELL COUNTY - 1:00 p.m.
Sep. 17 - @Beechwood - 7:30 p.m. (FOX19 Friday Prep Rally)
Sep. 24 - @Newport Central Catholic - 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 8 - @Scott - 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 15 - @Highlands - 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 23 - DIXIE HEIGHTS - 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 30 - ST. XAVIER - 1:00 p.m.
FINAL TAKE: The Colonels are really going to have to find their identity on the offensive side of the ball. Their defense will be solid, but they can't win games if they don't score. Low-scoring, grind-it-out type of games could be the norm for the Colonels this year.