Hope springs eternal this time of year.
It also brings a lot of questions.
With schools back in session and the fall sports season kicking into high gear this week, it starts another 10-month sports voyage for us on the NewsTribune sports staff.
After a long and lonesome summer, we’re excited to return to area gyms, fields and diamonds to cover area sports.
We also have questions that we’re interested in having answered.
Below are five questions about the NewsTribune’s 2013-14 sports season that I’m curious to discover the answers to this school year.
How will Hall football fair?
The Red Devils had enormous hype last season, with plenty of talk about a deep postseason run.
Instead, Hall stumbled out of the gates and its much-discussed now-senior class failed to deliver the punch needed as the Red Devils finished 1-8 for a second consecutive season.
Now a year older and year a smarter with a year’s experience, I’m interested in seeing how Hall’s season plays out. Will the Red Devils bounce back and make the playoffs or will they continue to suffer in the post-Gary Vicini era?
I will say from all the preview stories I did this preseason, the one thing that stood out the most was the attitude that existed around Hall. The kids and coaches are upset over last season and have a chip on their shoulder because they want to right their wrong.
We will see if they can do it.
How many golfers will qualify for state?
The one thing the NewsTribune’s coverage area does best is run, as evident by the number of state medalists in cross country and track and field over the past five years.
This year, however, golf could give running a run for its money (pun very much intended).
This year’s golf scene is loaded and has as much depth as I’ve seen in my nearly decade-long on-and-off tenure at the paper.
I think up to 10 boys golfers have the potential to qualify for state, while girls golf is the best that’s it has ever been and could easily have its first state qualifier(s) since 2008.
So the questions exist: Can golfers handle the sectional pressure and qualify for state? Will any girls advance it to state?
It could be a historic season on the links or a dud. Only time will tell.
Can Bureau Valley’s Regan Weidner stay healthy?
To me, this is the most intriguing question of the five.
The area is stacked with cross country talent, but let’s face it: If Weidner is healthy, she is the best.
However, during her career, being healthy has been a big if.
As a freshman, she came storming out of the gates in cross country, only to be slowed by an iron deficiency late in the season.
She had a great freshman track season before bursting into the state-wide spotlight last fall as a sophomore as in cross country she shocked many by placing second in Class 1A, which is the highest an area female has finished since Princeton’s Rebekah Faber placed second in Class A in 2001.
However, Weidner muddled through track and field last season as she was slowed by a lower hip/back injury that caused her season to never really get started.
Now a junior, Weidner is aiming to break through and win a state title, but it has to be asked: Will injuries keep her from reaching her potential or can she shine like she did as a sophomore in cross country?
Is this the last year for John Bellino?
John Bellino is a St. Bede institution.
He has coached football and baseball at the Academy for nearly 35 years and is coaching both again this season.
However, nearing retirement and with his youngest son Michael now a senior, you have to wonder how much longer Bellino will continue to coach.
He has had plenty of success over his nearly 70 combined seasons of coaching — including a state baseball title in 1988 — but with all of his kids to be in college next school year, how much longer will Bellino still coach? Is this school year his last or will he keep going strong?
How will Putnam County baseball do under its new Joey Ohnesorge?
Ohnesorge’s hire as baseball coach and athletic director was one of the craziest weeks of my career.
The week-long hiring process was the most expedited process I’ve ever seen, and when he finally did hold his first fall baseball practice, I’m told fans and parents lined the fence at Jenkins Field to get a look at the new coach.
It’s astonishing to think that the first day of fall baseball practice could be such a big deal, but to Putnam County, baseball is king.
Question is, will it remain on top?
The Panthers lost so much talent from last year’s squad that finished second in Class 1A, which leaves plenty of holes to fill. The question remains: Will the Panthers rebuild or reload? And how will the new coach do?
All I ask is that parents, players and fans give him a chance.
Jared Bell is a NewsTribune Sports Writer. He can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.