Week one of high school football has arrived. The camps, two-a-days and all the conditioning periods have led to this moment for the schools. Teams around the county will be on the road to start their 2022 season.
It’s almost time to look ahead to this season and leave last season in the past. However, it’s only week one. What happened last season still lingers around.
This week should be a look into what the teams will look like during the season. Teams will evolve, improve and change during the season. But week one does leave a significant first impression.
After talking to coaches during the off-season and from watching some practices, here is what you should be watching for from each of the games this week.
Arcanum at South Adams: The offensive line
Every high school coach loves to talk about their offensive line and how important it is. First year head coach Matt Macy raved about his offensive line. He said while the team lost some starters from last season, the guys who were behind them are pretty good as well.
The Trojans were a passing offense last year. Quarterback Bryce Schondelmyer had 3,278 passing yards and 45 passing touchdowns last season. Schondelmyer is gone after transferring out of Arcanum and Macy said he wants to establish the run a bit more than the team did last season. It will be up to the guys up front if Arcanum can run the ball effectively this year or not.
Ansonia at Riverside: The running game
Ansonia is also under the direction of a new head coach after Macy left to accept the Arcanum job. Adam Hall comes in after being the head coach at Tri-County North for the past two years. Hall was also an assistant coach under Macy at Ansonia.
Hall inherited a veteran team as only a handful of seniors graduated. However, their leading rusher Peyton Beam was one of those seniors. Beam had 1,196 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. Beam also led the team in receptions.
It seems like the next man up will be Exzavier Moody, who was the second leading rusher last year. It could end up being more of a committee in the backfield, but the Tigers will run the ball. Last year at Tri-County North, Hall’s team had 396 rushing attempts and 1660 yards rushing.
The running game on week one should show how physical Ansonia will be this season.
Greenville at Eaton: Fourth quarter play
The Green Wave had trouble winning games in the fourth quarter. Their 2-8 record last season could look better if they won more fourth quarter battles.
Head coach Bart Schmitz said the coaching staff emphasized winning the fourth quarter. It’s not an effort problem, it’s more of the team has to find ways to win the game late.
For example, Greenville tied the game 18-18 against Eaton at home last season. They lost 32-18 after giving up a touchdown and a pick six to Eaton.
The team is returning a good number of players, including First Team All-MVL running back Brock Short. Schmitz said the team could have learned from those experiences last year to get over the fourth quarter hump. A great fourth quarter performance by the team could provide a optimistic outlook for the the rest of the season.
Mississinawa Valley at Bucyrus: Quarterback play
Mississinawa Valley lost their senior quarterback Malachi Levesque to graduation. However, head coach Steven Trobridge is excited to get the season started with his new quarterback, junior Chastan Daniels.
After a 1-9 season, the Blackhawks went right to work after the season to prepare for this year. The players worked hard in the weight room and watched a ton of film during the off-season. Daniels was right in that group preparing to be the guy for the team this season.
Trobridge said they had to reign in Daniels a bit when baseball season came around. From the sound of it, Daniels is committed to getting ready to lead this team. He did make a start last season, but struggled. He had an off-season to learn from that experience and improve. Trobridge talked up Daniels and the Blackhawks could be an exciting team if Daniels’ off-season work paid off for him.
Tri-Village at Troy Christian: Overall team performance
The main thing to watch for from the Patriots is if they seem like the same, or even better, team from last season. They did lose some seniors on the offensive line, but most of their production is coming back. Junior quarterback Braden Keating is returning after throwing for 1,998 yards, second best in the conference. Junior Reed Wehr is back after leading the team in rushing yards and sacks. Senior Justin Finkbine is back after leading the team in receiving yards and tied for receiving touchdowns. Senior Austin Rismiller is back after leading the team in tackles.
If the team can gel with their new head coach Matthew Hopkins right away, the team could have a better year than last season’s 11-2 campaign. They made the regional semifinals last year.
Hopkins said the players expect to win a lot of games this season. A big step towards meeting those expectations is playing like they did last year, at a minimum.
Versailles at Celina: The running game
Another Tigers team where they could run the ball effectively this season. The defending Division V champions do have spots to fill from their departing seniors. One thing that could help ease in new players early in the season is running the ball.
Head coach Ryan Jones said the coaching staff is thrilled with the skill position players they have. In their scrimmage against Greenville this off-season, the running game exploded for them. Max and Joel Gehret had chunk play after chunk play in the scrimmage. Like Ansonia, the run game is only great if the team can be more physical than their opponent.
It’s nearly impossible for Versailles to top what they did last year, but could repeat it. A strong running game could help them with that.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]