In Play with Tom Markowski

New blood has Whiteford sniffing a second straight semifinal appearance

Football   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

Ottawa Lake – A new regime is paying dividends for Ottawa Lake Whiteford.

The Bobcats will host Climax-Scotts (11-0) in a Division 8 Region 4 final on Friday at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to the semifinals.

Last season Whiteford (11-0) defeated Climax-Scotts 48-14 for the school’s first region title.

Jason Mensing is in his fifth season at Whiteford’s head coach and has the program on the upswing. Whiteford won five playoff games before Mensing came to Whiteford from Tecumseh. The Bobcats have won eight playoff games in the last four seasons and have reached a district final in each.

“The extra practices have paid off,” Mensing said. “We’ve had a good five-year run.

“The first thing is, we have talent. Our offensive line is as good as any I’ve had, and they’re all juniors. I’ve got a great staff. Five of my guys are former head coaches. Tom Eitniear has been with me five years and Kris Hoag has been with me since 2007. It’s continuity. We’re all on the same page.”

Ottawa Lake is a small town located three miles from Toledo, just west of Temperance. Whiteford has 242 students and its home field has a small-town feel to it despite its proximity to Toledo. The football field is cut into the woods, so much so that three quarters of the field is surrounded by trees.

It’s in this type of setting Mensing has found a home. He’s the director of student advancement and the school’s athletic director. A graduate of Tecumseh, Mensing became a head coach for the first time at Addison in 2002. He went to Grayling the next season then went to Owosso in ’04. He spent three seasons there before taking over at Tecumseh.

During his travels Mensing discovered an offense he’s tweaked over the years and made it work.

“It’s a double wing or better yet, a flex wing shift,” he said. “We shift on nearly every play. I got it from a guy in California, Tim Murphy. He’s still coaching there. I met him at a clinic in Texas. I was amazed by the success he was having. We’ve found ways to be consistent scoring points. Some years we’ll run a double tight (end). Other years we’ll open it up. We’ve been more of a power team this year.”

The top player on the offensive line is Lucas Tesznar, a 6-5, 280-pound offensive tackle. Mensing calls Tesznar’s position the ‘super tackle’. Tesznar will move from position to position during a particular game. He might start at right tackle but move to guard or the other tackle spot.

At quarterback is junior Thomas Eitniear, the son of the assistant coach. A fine athlete, Eitniear has been offered a scholarship by Toledo to play baseball. At running back is senior Jesse Kiefer. Kiefer recently set the Monroe County record for career touchdowns (72).

The community is all in with Whiteford’s recent success. When Mensing took over the program he had 34 players. That number has jumped to 52 since.