Football season begins Friday

PREBLE COUNTY — The high school football season kicks off Friday night, Aug. 25, with all five county teams in action. Coaches are optimistic about their teams chances this season.


Coach’s name: Brad Davis

Number of years as head coach at current school: 3rd

Last season’s record: 2-8 (1-5 SWBL Southwestern Division)

The Eagles return 13 seniors who must play the best football of their careers, according to Davis.

Eaton has 11 returning lettermen, including five offensive lineman and three running backs.

“Because of that we must establish the run game. We want our run game to be physical, north and south running, but also have the ability to stretch the defense horizontally,” Davis said.

Back are Jordan Lewis (DL/TE), Aaron Tolliver (DB/RB), a 2016 2nd Team SWBL player, Kaleb Wilson (DL/OL), Chase Smith (LB/OL), a 2016 Honorable Mention SWBL player, Tyler Schmidt (DL, OL), and Spencer Reynolds (DL/OL) will all be three-year lettermen.

“This group has to be our core due to the amount or reps they’ve gotten and their experiences over the last few years. We have to be able to lean on these guys,” Davis said.

Davis said Caleb Puckett (DB/RB), a 2016 Honorable Mention SWBL selection, and Zac Schmidt (DB/WR) “are two guys that had really good production for us last season and we’re expecting that to increase this year as well.”

“Our seniors decided on ‘Win Every Day’ as our team’s goal for the season. This is what we expect from our players every day, regardless if it’s in the weight room, the practice field, game day or the classroom,” Davis said. “Our seniors need to show our underclassmen what this looks like; how to practice and prepare. This isn’t something that can just be talked about, it has to be demanded from our leadership. We’re working on that as well.”

Davis said he expects his team to be competitive this season.

“Our expectations are to compete and win every game. But we trying to focus more on the process that leads to success, not just the result,” he said.

The Eagles open the season at Greenville. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Preble Shawnee

Coach’s name: Matt Hopkins

Number of years as head coach at current school: 6th

Last season’s record: 6-4

Hopkins is expecting big things from his returning lettermen.

Eli Gibson (RB/LB) is a Fast, elusive runner and a very good defensive player.

Michael Bridgeford (OL/LB) is very intelligent, anchored the O-line for three years. Looking to help on the defensive side in an expanded role.

Austin Moore (WR/DB) was a 1st Team SWBL Receiver last year; leader in interceptions as well. Looking for another big year from him.

Tyler Hawkins (OL/DL); Looking forward to him having a big year for us a our center and a leader of the team.

Luke Lovely (RB/LB); 4-year starter; cornerstone of the defense and a powerful running back that has deceptive speed.

Chase Thompson (QB/DB); fastest player on the team; looking to make a major impact after missing last season due to injury.

Devin Tutt (TE/LB); expecting him to be a major contributor on offense.

Cole Heger (WR/LB); has really stepped up in his new role defensively.

Tyler Worley (WR/DB); after a year off of football has established himself as a two-way starter.

Austin Fields (WR/DL); plays both soccer and football; looking to immediately contribute in the D-line rotation.

Hopkins said depth is a concern.

“Depth is always a concern at a small school, so all players need to be ready when their name is called,” he said.

Hopkins is looking for his team to compete at a high level.

“The expectations are for the team to compete at a high level every game. The players need to focus on doing their job to the best of their ability and good things will happen,” he said.

The Arrows open the season at National Trail. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Tri-County North

Head coach: Eric Wright, First year. Was an assistant coach the past seven seasons at TCN.

Last season’s record: 6-4 (6-3 Cross County Conference)

2016 highlights. Tanner Booth, senior, with 1,600 yards rushing (Wright said he is going to be missed).

5 key returners in Chandler Sproles – OT/DT – Senior – 6’2, 265; Dakota Dixon – OT/NT – Senior – 6’0, 290; Preston Jackson – OG/DT – Junior – 6’1, 300; Wyatt Hutchins – TE/MLB – Junior – 6’2, 240; Wyatt Woodyard – OG/MLB – Junior – 5’9, 190.

Transfers: Sharvezz Carter – WR/CB – Sophomore – 6’2, 185 – moved into the school district from New Lebanon. Still awaiting eligibility.

Wright said his team has a “solid returning cast of offensive and defensive line. Looking for younger/lighter skill players to fill some big shoes athletically.”

North begins the season at Brookville. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Twin Valley South

Coach’s name: Clint Bartlett

Number of years as head coach at current school: 2nd year

Last season’s record: 3-7

Bartlett has 10 players returning who he expects to have an impact on this season. Back are Ryan Bassler (RB/LB), Austin Eaton (WR/DE), Ryan Johnson (RB/DB), John Gray (OL/DL), (Nick Stacy (OL/DL), Beau Ashley (OL/DL), Wyatt Burke (OL/DL), Wendell Webb (OL/LB), Cade Cottingim (QB/DB), and Chandler Napier (WR/DB).

Barlett said some key newcomers this are Isaac Clark (RB/DE), Tommy Lafone (WR/DB), Kyler Kohl (WR/DB), Levi White (WR/DB), Josh Wysong (OL/DL), Kaleb Cornett (TE/DE).

“We have a lot of guys back with some varsity experience from last year (and) we are hoping to improve on last year,” Bartlett said. “Great Group of young men, who are dedicated and they work extremely hard. I am proud of the things they have done in the off season, and am getting excited to see where this season takes us.”

The Panthers will host Dixie to open the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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The high school football season kicks off Friday night, Aug. 25 with all five county teams in action. high school football season kicks off Friday night, Aug. 25 with all five county teams in action.

By Eddie Mowen Jr.

This week’s schedule:

Eaton at Greenville 7 p.m.

Preble Shawnee at National Trail 7:30 p.m.

Tri-County North at Brookville 7 p.m.

Dixie at Twin Valley South 7 p.m.

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH