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Perrysburg quarterback Gus Dimmerling entered last season as an unknown commodity and emerged as a proven winner.
Dimmerling burst on to the scene in 2013, thriving under the pressure of living up to a long line of talented Yellow Jacket quarterbacks.
The dual threat quarterback led Perrysburg to its first Northern Lakes League title since 2006 by putting up huge numbers with his arm and feet.
The 5-foot-11 and 185-pound senior also guided the Yellow Jackets to the first playoff win in program history. Questions surrounded Dimmerling, who replaced Steve Slocum, a record-setting signal caller. Slocum was a three-year starter who rushed for 2,262 and threw for 2,962 yards in his career.
But Dimmerling answered the skeptics by throwing for a school-record 1,688 yards, surpassing Slocum’s total of 1,535. Dimmerling also rushed for a team-high 1,207 yards and 15 scores.
“Last year coming in, I had to prove my name,” Dimmerling said. “I still hadn’t made a name for myself. Everyone was comparing me to Steve, and that was kind of frustrating, and it motivated me to make my own name. That helped me last year. And then coming into this year I still have a chip on my shoulder from not being able to finish the season out.”
With Dimmerling under center, Perrysburg went undefeated in the NLL (7-0) and finished with a 9-3 record.
Perrysburg coach Matt Kregel was not surprised at Dimmerling’s emergence as an elite QB.
“In some ways, he exceeded what Steve Slocum did,” Kregel said. “When you have a guy that can run like him, someone has to be assigned to him. So if it’s a run-pass option, you will have an open receiver. In the running game, Gus is as good as any tailback out there.
“There are a lot of things we can do offensively with a guy who can run the way he does. He was above expectations as a passer last year.”
Yet Dimmerling’s breakout season was marred by a season-ending injury. Dimmerling ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, and he threw for another 262 yards to lead Perrysburg to the historic 28-21 win against Akron Ellet in a Division II first-round contest.
But on the last play of the game, he broke his ribs.
Dimmerling could not play in the Yellow Jackets’ 24-21 loss to Avon the next week in the regional semifinals.
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“It motivates me a lot. I was devastated that I couldn't play,” Dimmerling said. “So it’s motivated me to push to work harder this year to get as far as we did last year.”
During the regular season, Dimmerling completed 100 of 178 attempts for 1,464 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 11 games overall, he completed 118 of 205 passes with 14 touchdowns.
Dimmerling’s biggest statistical game came in the 50-7 rout against rival Maumee in the regular-season finale. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 260 yards and two TDs. He also rushed for 216 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Kregel said Dimmerling has always led with his play on the field, but he said Dimmerling is becoming much more vocal.
“I’ve always been a quiet guy who tried to lead by example, but this year I realized we lost some vocal leaders, and I thought I could step up,” Dimmerling said.
The Yellow Jackets averaged more than 35 points per game last season, and Dimmerling was removed early from lopsided contests. Kregel said his stats would have been even more impressive had it not been for three blowout wins.
But Dimmerling’s absence in the second-round playoff game gave an opportunity to sophomore Trevor Hafner. In his first varsity start, Hafner completed 22 of 41 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Hafner’s emergence could give opposing defenses fits. Kregel plans to use both in his attack this season.
Hafner said he learned a lot as Dimmerling’s backup.
“He comes into every game focused,” Hafner said. “He’s really quiet and focused about what his job is. Last year nobody expected anything out of him. This year he has expectations. But he will go in there, and he will keep exceeding expectations every time.”
Kregel said Dimmerling has unfinished business.
“The way his season ended last year was not to his liking, and Gus has prepared with that in mind this summer. He is in great physical condition,” Kregel said. “It’s Gus’ team. He is the leader.”
■ LAST SEASON: Completed 118 of 205 passes for 1,688 yards and 14 TDs; rushed for 1,207 yards and 15 TDs.
■ BEST GAME: Completed 14 of 20 passes for 260 yards and rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in 50-7 win over Maumee.