With scrimmages and summer workouts taking place and official practices beginning July 30, many local football teams are gearing up for the upcoming season on the gridiron. Here is a brief outlook on each team:
First-year head coach Adam Eichhorn will look to lead Marietta to its first winning season since 2002.
Times file photo
Marietta High’s Eddie Kimbrough (55) tackles an Athens player during a scrimmage at Don Drumm Stadium last August. Kimbrough is considered one of the Tigers’ key returning linemen.
It will not be an easy task as the Tigers are losing three of their top offensive performers from 2011, a year in which they went 2-8. Quarterback Justin Futrell was lost to graduation, as were running backs Dustin Baker and Mitchell Gearhart.
"It's tough losing guys like that," Eichhorn said. "You can't replace their leadership and their work ethic, you just have to hope that guys step up."
Baker was a first-team All-ECOL selection, while Gearhart was selected to the second-team. Baker was also first-team All-District.
Along with a new head coach, Marietta also brought in Jason Schob as the new offensive coordinator. Eichhorn said Schob will have full control of the offense. A former quarterback, look for Schob to spread it out when the Tigers have the ball. However, Eichhorn said nothing will be official until he sees how everything looks during camp.
On defense, Marietta will stick with the 4-4. "Hopefully with learning a new offense, sticking with same defense should help the guys out," Eichhorn said. "We should pick up right where we left off last year, defensively."
Likely stepping in at quarterback will be junior Anthony Kimbrough, who backed up Futrell in 2011. Snapping the ball to Kimbrough will be his brother Eddie, a senior. Senior Tanner Leach will also help out on the line at guard. At the skill positions, junior Quinton Coffield, a running back, and junior Chance Wright, a receiver, will likely make big contributions.
"Obviously we'd love to go 10-0," Eichhorn said when asked about expectations. "Realistically, we want to be more competitive, from the first whistle to the last. Last year, the second half hurt us. Our number one goal is to be competitive from quarters one through four. We want to turn close losses into close wins, and be well-disciplined."
The Tigers will begin their season Aug. 24 in the friendly confines of Don Drumm Stadium, where they will play host to the Morgan Raiders.
The Warriors, fresh off of 7-on-7 drills at Capital, finished 5-5 overall last season, with a 2-3 record in the SEOAL.
Like Marietta, Warren is losing some very talented players. Among those players are Jimmie Buck, Josh Windland, Joey Lane, and Dustin Harlow. Also graduating is defensive leader Austin Henthorn, top defensive back Jeremy Hastie, and "Mr. Everything" Jeremy Fivecoait.
"They're all special players," said head coach Andy Schob. "You can't really replace players like that. We just have to adjust. We have good players coming back. We have to maximize their strengths."
Much of the team's offense will come from talented senior quarterback Dylan Leffingwell. Leffingwell has thrown for over 1,800 yards the past two seasons, but loses his top two targets in Fivecoait in Hastie. Schob is expecting senior Andrew Vincent to step into the number one receiver role. Vincent has contributed nicely as a third option the past two seasons. Also look for production from senior Chas Miller out of the backfield.
In spite of a couple losses, the team will feature an experienced offensive line, led by senior Tanner Barrows.
The Warriors will run multiple offensive schemes, including the spread and the Wing-T. On defense, the 3-5 will remain in tact, as Schob will have his team blitzing often.
Schob is optimistic about the upcoming fall.
"We've got a lot of good kids," Schob said. "Hopefully they keep working, and we can develop depth and have a few kids step up. I like what we've done so far."
Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck believes his team will improve on its 5-5 record from 2011, due to the return of several key players.
"We have a lot of our skill players coming back," Huck said. "We do have to replace some of the linemen we lost. Other than that, I think we're in good shape. We should improve."
One of those returners will be quarterback Chandler Lang. Lang, in his first year under center, completed 51 percent of his passes for 607 yards, while also rushing for 482 yards.
Spencer Lang, Chandler's older brother, returns at tailback after leading the team with 582 rushing yards and 262 receiving yards a year ago. Max Alsbach also contributed well on the ground in 2011, running for 262 yards on 68 carries.
The Cadets open up their season on the road August 24 against River High in Hannibal.
The Frontier Cougars are coming off of a disappointing 0-10 campaign, but head coach Todd Bradford thinks the winless season could prove to be a valuable experience for his young team. "We were a young team last year," Bradford said. "Even our junior class was new to the game. It was definitely a learning experience for us."
Bradford said the team will have most of its starting group back, and estimated the return of about 14 letterman.
Second-year quarterback Jordan Jefferson will lead the Cougar offense. Jefferson was Frontier's only player selected to the 2011 All-PVC team. He completed 65-144 passes for 1,084 yards in just his first year strapping on the pads.
Also expected to make big contributions are a pair of three-year letterman in running back/linebacker Taylor Merckle and wide receiver/outside linebacker Eddie Salazar.
The Cougars open up at home week one against Shenandoah.
The Wildcats will have a new coach in 2012 in Tom Tucker. It will be Tucker's second stint as Waterford's head coach, and with 6-4 records the past two seasons, Tucker isn't looking to make any big changes.
"We're gonna mostly keep the same stuff, with no real drastic changes," Tucker said. "We'll stay with the I-Formation offense, and the 5-2 defense."
The Wildcats are losing three All-TVC players to graduation in quarterback Trevor Lang and linemen Tyler Pyatt and Kendrick Schwendeman.
"We lost a lot of good seniors, but we're returning some good talent," Tucker said. One of those key returners will be wide receiver Brian Moore, who was also an All-TVC selection.
The only local team to make the state playoffs in 2011, the Seminoles are coming off of a 9-1 campaign.
Jay Circosta, entering his 18th season as Monroe Central's head football coach, won his 300th career game last season. Circosta said his team will have to go on without some very talented players.
"We didn't lose a lot, but the players we did lose were quality players" Circosta said. "We lost six seniors, four of which were starters. That's hard to replace. We'll be inexperienced in some areas, and we'll have two to three years of experience in other areas."
Quarterback Tyler Kinchen was a four year starter for the Seminoles. Kinchen accounted for 2,000 yards of offense the past two seasons. Also gone is running back Kole Hogue, another four year starter, and lineman C.J. Wise, a three year starter.
Senior Korey Lafferre, a three year starter at receiver, will be moving to quarterback. Circosta said Lafferre is very athletic and has better speed than Kinchen, but is not as big or strong.
Sharing snaps at running back will be junior Curtis Nixon and sophomore Levi Brown. Seniors Josh Guiler and Camden Hill will both play big roles on the line for the Seminoles.
Circosta's team will run a 5-3 defense, while doing a little bit of everything on offense.
The Josh Perkins-led Caldwell squad is coming off of a 4-6 season, two years after going 9-1. The Redskins are looking to return to glory in 2012.
Perkins expects about 40-44 players in camp. Four players that will not be returning are quarterback Jensen Croucher, running back Adam Rossiter, and linemen Brian Sawyer and Tim Schenkel. Rossiter ran for 1,450 yards last season to lead the team, while Croucher was the team's leading passer. Sawyer and Schenkel were each a huge force on the Redskin line.
Junior John Carpenter will likely take over for Croucher under center. Kale Rayner is expected to lead the defense at linebacker.
Perkins said he is going to wait until practices start to decide what the lineup will look like, but his year-to-year goals remain the same.
"Our goals have always been the same," Perkins said. "We want to win the PVC and qualify for the state playoffs. Those are always the main goals we want to accomplish."