By Chris Chaney
The accolades keep coming for New Richmond’s first-year head coach Josh Stratton as it was announced on Nov. 18 that the Lions’ head man was named the Coach of the Year in Ohio’s Division III Southwest District as selected by a media panel from the district.
“I’m not real big on accolades and recognition,” a humble Stratton said. “More important than anything was the support I got from the parents and administration. That’s all the recognition and accolades I could ever ask for.
“I’m a little oblivious to how the whole process works, but it is a great honor, especially being new to the area and with not a lot of people knowing who I am or about me and the program. It is a nice honor and I appreciate it.”
The coach seemed as adept at deflecting praise as he was at producing a quality team. Stratton led the Lions to a 9-1 season in just his first year at the helm. His team outscored their opponents by 323 points over the course of the season and averaged 44.0 points per contest.
But as he does, the coach relayed his awards back to the players on the field, heaping especially high praise on senior linebacker Will Lytle who was named to the All-District Defensive First Team.
“More important than anything was that we had a player get elected to the First Team All-District: Will Lytle,” Stratton said. “I believe he is the first New Richmond to be a First Teammer in the Southwest District since 2000. So, that’s quite an honor.”
Lytle, a 5-foot-8, 250-pound lineman, was given the team most valuable player award for his five sacks, 49 solo tackles, 32 assisted tackles and three fumble recoveries.
“If our league had an Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, I would guess that (Lytle) would have been the Defensive Player of the Year,” Stratton said. “He’s been unblockable all year. He demanded double teams and teams had to scheme around how they were going to block him and it didn’t matter.
“He’s arguably the most dominant player at his position that I’ve ever coached in any sport, really. He made us better in practice as well. Our center did an outstanding job (in games) basically because he had to go against Will everyday.”
The Lions also put two players on the Offensive Second Team: sophomore lineman Tyler Sammons and junior running back Tyler Anderson.
“Tyler Anderson was banged up earlier in the year,” Stratton explained “Once he got to 100-percent, he took our offense to a different level. He gets to the line of scrimmage extremely fast and rarely did he ever have a negative play. I think he had one negative play all season. That’s outstanding.”
Anderson only rushed the ball 122 times all season on a team that runs the ball almost exclusively. Still, he racked up 1,027 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 8.4 yards per carry.
“Part of (Anderson’s success) is a testament to our great offensive line we had this year and one of those reasons was Tyler Sammons. As a sophomore to be named Second Team All-District is a great honor for him, but he was upset.
“He is a very, very driven young man who has some lofty goals for himself and he won’t let anything stand in his way. He is already as technique-sound as guys that you’ll find at any level. He’s going to get stronger and faster and I feel sorry for defensive players on our schedule the next two years.”
Both Anderson and Sammons will be back for the Lions next season as they try to take the program to the next level.