Pioneers were resilient on way to state playoff berth

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Jonathan Alder quarterback Preston Eisnaugle (10) follows Jamie Dye’s block against a Clinton-Massie defender on Friday. The Pioneers ended their season at 8-3.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
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Jonathan Alder High School head football coach Brett Glass summed it up with a few words during an interview with the Journal-Tribune on Sunday afternoon.
“Ah, I’m disappointed … but that’s football.”
Glass was referring to the Pioneers’ 17-7, season-ending loss to Clinton-Massie on Friday during the Division IV Region 16 quarterfinals.
Despite the setback, the Pioneers had a lot to be happy about during a season that ended with a record of 8-3.
That mark puts Glass’ four-year record as the head coach of his alma mater at 32-11.
One of the things that Glass liked was his squad’s competitiveness.
“I thought the guys battled hard each week,” he said. “We had several games that could have gone either way.
“We finished 8-2 during the regular season, but we had a couple of overtime victories and a couple of games we won in the fourth quarter,” he said. “We could have finished 5-5, but our seniors displayed a lot of leadership and the entire team had a lot of resiliency.”
Glass was pleased with the balance the Pioneers’ offense displayed throughout the campaign.
Senior quarterback Preston Eisnaugle passed for 1,700 yards and the Alder ground game amassed nearly 1,900.
“That balance kept us going,” said Glass. “There were some games in which our running game was stopped, but we were able to pass the ball.”
Glass said at times the JA defense stumbled a bit, especially when it came to giving up big plays.
That, however, was not a problem during the playoff game against Clinton-Massie.
“We kept them from making big plays,” said Glass. “Our defense played very well.”
The 17 points the Falcons (10-1) scored marked the lowest offensive output they have tallied in a single game this season.
“The guys learned our defense better as the season went on,” said Glass.
The 2017 campaign marked a new venture for the Pioneers as they left the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference for the Central Buckeye Conference.
Glass said the new venue was everything he expected it to be.
“There were a lot of competitive teams in the CBC,” he said, citing Bellefontaine (which handed JA one of its two regular season losses), Kenton Ridge and Indian Lake in particular.
“There was a lot of parity throughout the conference,” said Glass. “We did not blow any teams out and our CBC schedule made us a better team as we went along.”
Alder finished second in the CBC’s Kenton Trail Division to Bellefontaine (10-1), which will play its second-round Division III playoff game against Dresden Tri-Valley on Friday.
Most high school football teams lose a solid group of seniors with each passing season.
The Pioneers are no exception.
Along with Eisnaugle, the program will bid farewell to running back Jamie Dye (who rushed for more than 1,400 yards), two-way lineman Nolan Larison, linebacker-running back-receiver Drew Myers, defensive backs-wide receivers Bryan Blacka, Dalton Potts and Dylan Devier, linebacker Dylan Boysel, offensive-defensive lineman Jacob Sullivan and place-kicker Ethan Gordin.
“These are the guys who I’ve coached from the very first snap as head coach,” said Glass, who previously served as the Pioneers’ defensive coordinator. “Many of them have been two or three-year starters, some on both sides of the ball.
“They always had a ‘never-quit’ attitude and they showed a lot of fight each week,” he said. “That rubbed off on the younger guys.”
With losing so many key seniors, is Glass worried about the future of the program?
Not really.
“Our jayvee team went 8-0 and our freshmen won four of their six games,” he said. “I’m looking for big things from our younger guys in the future. I feel we’ve got guys who are ready to step up next year.
“It’s way too early to tell which ones are going to do that,” said Glass. “However, it’s the younger guys’ turn to pick it up.”
Jonathan Alder has earned post-season playoff berths in three of Glass’ four seasons at the Pioneer helm.
Those Week 11 games haven’t gone as well as Pioneer Nation would have hoped with losses in each one.
“We’ve just had to play really good teams in the first round of the playoffs all three years,” said Glass.
What do the Pioneers need to do to get over that opening-round post-season hump?
“We just need to continue to work hard in the off-season to get stronger,” said Glass. “It’s what we do every year.”
He also said the Pioneers will have their same yearly goals as they prepare for 2018.
“We want to get off to a good start by winning our Week 1 game, win the conference and get back into the playoffs,” said Glass.



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