BELPRE - Last year, Belpre not only lost its third straight game to Fort Frye, but also lost 1,000-yard tailback Manney Tullius in the same game until the middle of the season.
Belpre head coach Greg Adams is hoping that neither of those things reoccur Friday night when Fort Frye, 8-3 with a playoff appearance last year, and the host Golden Eagles kick off the 2014 season at 7:30 p.m. at Ralph Holder Stadium.
"With our small squad, it's important that we keep our kids healthy," said Adams, as his 2013 squad suffered four straight setbacks after Tullius' injury to fall to 1-4 before rallying to finish 5-5.
Adams stressed the importance of getting off to a good start this season. "It's something we really have to do," he said. "It's imperative for us if we want to take the next step for this program, whether it be two or three more wins, maybe winning the TVC or even making the playoffs, which I think we're capable of doing."
Although not especially enamored with his team's performance in its preseason scrimmages, Adams nevertheless thinks the Golden Eagle gridders are "primed and ready to go come Friday night."
Fort Frye, of course, will be without the services of the versatile Chandler Lang this year.
Ironically, the graduated Lang, a two-time all-Ohio quarterback, was the MVP for Adams' Ohio team in this past June's BACF Football Classic, an 18-15 win over West Virginia at Stadium Field.
"Chandler is a great kid and quite a player," said Adams. "I got to know him a lot better while preparing for the BACF game, and I'm sure (Fort Frye head) coach (Eric) Huck will miss him."
In Lang's stead, though, at quarterback for the Cadets this season will be senior Terren Huck, younger brother of the head coach.