GOSHEN — If Goshen can just get through preseason practices, maybe the Redskins will even have some players left.
A string of bad luck that has to feel more like a noose with the squeeze it’s putting on coach Brian Bechtel’s program is winding its way through the varsity.
Some of sophomore point guard Brady Bechtel’s knee issues have been documented, and they aren’t going away any time soon, but on top of that, fellow returning starter Austin Woolett suffered a sprained ankle this week, sophomore transfer Colton Potter sustained a fractured cheekbone last week that’ll keep him out a couple weeks, and promising soph Cameron Kline is still nursing a football groin injury.
“We’re banged up pretty good,” the elder Bechtel said Wednesday, Nov. 20. “Yesterday at practice, we had to clean blood off the court twice. We’re beaten up, but our guys are practicing hard.”
The coach’s son is being limited to an hour a day at practice as he battles swelling in his right knee. Brady Bechtel had meniscus surgery on the knee — originally injured last January — in both March and July, then during football season suffered a severe sprain to the same knee that kept him out for about a month.
“The best thing for him right now may be to sit a couple months,” Brian Bechtel said, “but he’s not willing to do that. He is frustrated because he hasn’t been able to play at 100 percent since January, but he wants to play.”
There actually are some healthy Redskins, too, as Goshen tries to build on the momentum of last season’s 14-8 mark that was the program’s best in a decade.
The team graduated, among others, its top two scorers in Sam Stegelmann and Jesse Good, but returns its top two backups in Deric Haynes and Alex Hartsough, who often provided major contributions off the bench.
Add them to a pair of returning starters in Bechtel and Woolett, to a move-in starter in Potter — he started 12 games for a 2-19 Seymour club as a freshman — and to some other prospects, and the coach is hopeful.
“This is probably,” said Brian Bechtel, “our most athletic team we’ve fielded in my 15 years here as far as total athleticism, speed, jumping ability.”
The Redskins open with three straight road games, beginning Nov. 26 at Marian, then play four straight home games, the first of those Dec. 7 against Elkhart Central.
Q&A WITH GOSHEN COACH BRIAN BECHTEL
Q: How’s the team working through all the injuries you’ve spelled out?
A: “Our second string is getting a lot of reps right now, which I think will make us stronger in the long run. I don’t know about the short run, because we’ve lost a lot of scoring and rebounding, but it is a good chance to look at more guys, and I felt anyway like we can probably play 10 or 11 guys this year. I think we’ve got a deep team.”
Q: Presuming everybody gets reasonably healthy, who are the candidates to play regularly and what do they bring?
A: “With Brady (Bechtel), we have a point guard who can also shoot. He has improved his shot. He’s added 60 pounds to his bench press since last year, and that helps with consistency on shooting the 3. He can also create for other people. And we get Isaac Huerta back. He’s been our backup point guard. He’s coming off an ACL injury last season (that limited him to four games). He’s a lot stronger in his upper body and doesn’t look like he’s lost any quickness. Austin (Woolett) should be a very good rebounder for us. Deric (Haynes) will be out there. He’s shooting the ball well, is a good spot-up shooter. DJ Ambrose and Alex Hartsough are two more seniors, and Alex has a lot of experience off the bench. Alex Haney is another senior and kind of a late bloomer who could help us. Colton Potter’s a shooting guard with a lot of experience for a sophomore (starting 12 games last season at 2-19 Seymour). He was probably forced into action early on a team that didn’t have a lot of success, but he’s got moxie to him. He has that fighting mentality. Cam (Kline) has grown a lot. He played some on the varsity level for us last year and then played a lot in a physically demanding sport (football) this fall.”
Q: What’s the outlook if healthy?
A: “We have the ability to be a good team by the end of the year, win quite a few games. When you lose guys like (Sam) Stegelmann, who was very crafty, that’s hard to replace. We’re a little more brute force inside with Woolett, with maybe not as much creativity in there as last year, but more strength. We’ll definitely be guard-oriented, but with the ability to get some second shots. We’ve got some athletic rebounders.”
Q: Two straight winning seasons, including 14-8 last season, is that something that can be built upon?
“I don’t think there’s any question. We have the ability to be a winning program for a while now. I think we’re back to guys who are used to success and expect to win. I think that’s a big part of winning. I’m proud of the fact that we had some down years but were still able to keep kids with us in the youth leagues during that time.”
No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr.
4 Cameron Kline G 5-11 So.
5 Alex Haney F 6-5 Sr.
10 Brady Bechtel G 5-10 So.
11 Jack Gingerich G 6-0 Jr.
20 Colton Potter G 5-11 So.
22 Oliver Nafziger G 5-11 Jr.
23 Deric Haynes G/F 6-4 Sr.
24 Isaac Huerta G 5-6 Jr.
31 Alex Hartsough F 6-2 Sr.
34 DJ Ambrose G/F 5-11 Sr.
42 Trevor Weldy F 6-7 Sr.
44 Austin Woolett F 6-5 Jr.
Coach: Brian Bechtel (143-198 in 16 seasons overall; 130-170 in 14 seasons at Goshen; 13-28 in two seasons at Garrett).
Assistants: Shaun Hill, Michael Wohlford, Kris Davis, Jeremy McLaughlin.
26 — at Marian. 30 — at Glenn.
6 — at Bremen. 7 — Elkhart Central. 14 — DeKalb 20 — Northridge (c) 21 — Fairfield. 27 — vs. Penn at Northridge in NIC/NLC Shootout. 28 — vs. SB St. Joseph at Penn in NIC/NLC Shootout.
10 — at Concord (c). 17 — at Warsaw (c). 24 — NorthWood (c). 31 — at Elkhart Memorial (North Side Gym) (c).
4 — Mishawaka. 7 — Plymouth (c). 13 — at Wawasee (c). 15 — at East Noble (1 p.m. JV start). 21 — Westview. 25 — SB St. Joseph. 28 — at West Noble.
(c) — Denotes Northern Lakes Conference games.
GOSHEN RETURNING LEADERS
Points: Brady Bechtel 6.9, Austin Woolett 5.3, Deric Haynes 5.0.
Rebounds: Woolett 5.0, Cameron Kline 3.2.
Assists: Bechtel 2.7*, Haynes 0.5.
* — Denotes also led last season’s team overall.