GREENVILLE — Greenville football head coach Aaron Shaffer hopes his players will get to “ring the bell” to celebrate Green Wave success throughout the 2015 season.
“Regardless of how any individual has performed on any given night, if the team is ringing the bell, things went well for the team,” he said.
The Green Wave seeks to build upon their overall record of 5-5 in 2014, including 4-1 in division play. Spearheading the drive will be the squad’s returning seniors and juniors.
Key senior players for this year’s team include four-year starting quarterback Clay Guillozet, running back Codi Byrd, middle linebacker William Nibert and offensive tackle Lukas Lowry. All four have been designated as team captains.
In 2014, Guillozet recovered from an injury suffered in the first game of the season to be named to the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division first team. Over the course of six games, he passed for more than 100 yards per game, with seven touchdowns, six interceptions and a passer rating of 105.3.
Byrd, also named to GWOC North’s first team, led the Wave in rushing, grinding out 1,026 yards on the ground with seven rushing touchdowns and a per-carry average of 5.1 yards on 200 attempts.
Nibert, GWOC North second team, carries with him three fumble recoveries, four sacks and 89 tackles from the 2014 season.
Lowry received GWOC North second team honors playing in the trenches for Greenville in 2014.
“The seniors have done a good job of leading, showing the young guys how to do it, which is important to me,” Shaffer said. “We talk a lot about how the legacy you leave isn’t only gauged on wins and losses but how the teams that follow you do. That’s an indicator of how well you’ve led your teammates, and I think they’ve done a good job.”
Players who cut their teeth as sophomores in 2014 also will play a decisive role in the Wave’s 2015 success.
Junior Logan Eldridge, a three-year starter and GWOC North first teamer, whom Shaffer calls “the silent leader of the defense,” returns to play strong safety in the Green Wave backfield. He had 72 tackles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries in 2014.
“He doesn’t talk a whole lot, doesn’t say too much. He definitely leads by example with his play,” Shaffer said.
Other returning junior leaders include defensive back Kyle Phillips, wide receiver/outside linebacker Aaron Rich, wide receiver/linebacker Justin Brown and offensive tackle Elias Watters, among others.
“There are some guys out there that have had some game experience we’re going to lean on, along with the seniors,” Shaffer said.
The Greenville defense was a strength in 2014, allowing 301 yards per game, second among six GWOC North teams, and third in points allowed per game — 20.6.
One crucial element of the Wave’s success in 2015 will be the return of an intact coaching staff.
“We’ve returned every coach from last year at the high school and junior high levels,” Shaffer said. “Having some continuity in the coaching staff is huge. It provides some comfort for the kids. You don’t have to learn new things, whether it’s the demeanor of the coach or drills or philosophies. Being able to keep our staff together and continue to build on things we’ve done in the past is huge.”
Shaffer, a 1995 graduate of Greenville High School, is entering his fourth season as the team’s head coach with an overall record of 8-22. For his efforts in 2014, he was named GWOC North’s Coach of the Year.
For Shaffer, however, success is measured by a number of factors, not just awards or notches in the win column.
“We view ourselves in a different light than maybe some others do,” Shaffer said. “We’re not August to November — we’re year round. It’s important to me that all of our players do well in the classroom and set themselves up for the potential of going to college, if that’s something in their goals.
“Success is determined by the growth of each individual player throughout the year, not only athletically, but academically and socially as well. It’s important for us to have young men who have success beyond high school football.
“The success of our season may not be gauged until January or February, when our players are choosing to go to school, finishing up and graduating and doing the things that they’re supposed to do as students,” he said.
Greenville’s 2015 foes are identical to those faced in 2014.
To kick off the season, Greenville hosts Eaton on Aug. 28. The Wave travel to Tipp City for a Sept. 4 matchup, visit Preble-Shawnee on Sept. 11 and then takes a bus ride at Lebanon on Sept. 18.
Fairmont visits Greenville for a Sept. 25 contest. The Green Wave goes to Troy for an Oct. 2 game then returns home for their homecoming matchup with Piqua Oct. 9.
Oct. 16 sees Greenville hosting Butler followed by a contest with Trotwood-Madison at Harmon Field on Oct. 23. Greenville closes its regular season at home on Oct. 30 versus Sidney.