First week game matchups
Coal Grove at Meigs
This game has proved to be a springboard into the playoffs the past two seasons. Two years ago Meigs won and made the playoffs for the first time. Last year Coal Grove won and earned its first playoff berth since 1996.
While Coal Grove had to replace its backfield but returns most of its offense and defense, Meigs is undergoing a major rebuilding project.
Meigs must replace seven starters on both sides of the ball. Among the key losses for the Marauders are league MVP Jeremy Smith and the school’s all-time leading passer Jacob Well.
Running back Jeffrey Roush (5-11, 170) is expected to be the main threat, but he injured his shoulder in a scrimmage and his status is uncertain.
Zane Trace at Rock Hill
The Pioneers beat Rock Hill last year, but it was their only non-conference win.
Zane Trace opened the season 1-2 last year and then won seven straight and ended Westfall’s 29-game SVC winning streak.
Leading the way for the Pioneers are senior fullback and linebacker Chris Finley (5-9, 215), senior wide receiver and safety Nick Ganus (6-1, 170), two-way senior lineman Trey Moats (6-2, 285) and junior defensive lineman Jerrod Collins (6-4, 235).
Ports. West at Fairland
There is one name the Fairland defense has to remember: Trevon Pendleton.
The Senators return most of the starting lineup from a 6-4 team, but the main returning weapon is the 6-foot, 230-pound senior who ran for 1,464 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.
Considered one of the top fullbacks in the state, Pendleton has been timed at 4.6 in the 40, but the fastest back in the lineup is Kyle Locher who is joined by Tanner Journey and Jerrod Bricker. Junior Levi Ratliff is the quarterback.
South Point at Minford
The defending SOC champion Falcons are one of four teams considered a threat to win the conference this year, but their lack of size up front could be good news for the young and inexperienced Pointers.
Speed is Minford’s key asset with Ethan Butcher at quarterback leading the way. He was on the 4×100 relay team that finished eighth in the state meet last spring.
Fullback Mark Slone is the team’s top running threat and he is joined by speedy wide receivers Seth Lloyd, J.P. Piguet and Tyler Gaines.
Chesapeake at Oak Hill
The Panthers appear to be better up front, and they’ll need to be against the Oaks who were 11-1 last season as they ran roughshod through an unbeaten regular season.
Tackles Chris Fairland (6-2, 280) and Drew Cannon (6-3, 255) anchor a solid interior line on both sides of the ball.
Mix that line with some very talented skilled players and the Panthers’ defense will be tested immediately.
Westen Hale (6-0, 205) is back at fullback, wide receiver Joey Maynard (6-1, 180) and quarterback Jesse Slone (6-4, 200) have been four-year starters and give Oak Hill quick-strike capabilities.
Southern at Symmes Valley
In this case, opposites don’t attract. But they will clash.
Symmes Valley comes into the game with a veteran team while the Tornadoes must replace several starters from a 5-5 team and they have only 21 players on their roster.
First-year coach Kyle Wickline plans to rely on his six seniors including running back Eric Buzzard, linemen Zach Manuel, Daniel Jenkins, Adam Warden, Joey Forester and Jesse Cope. Daniel Rathun and Trent Deem are vying for the quarterback job.
Manchester at Green
The Greyhounds enter this season with an 0-20 record over the past two years. But first-year head coach Gene Peterson — who was previously at Fleming County, Ky. — said this Manchester team has some size but lacks depth.
Peterson has installed a wishbone offense that will throw sparingly. Defensively, Peterson is implementing what he calls a “confusion” defense.
The Greyhounds will rely on their ground game on offense. Tyler Grooms, Ian Watterson and Ian Gulley provide the major production in the backfield. Quarterback Dalton Walters will run or throw.