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Friday Night Matchups

Jim Walker


Coal Grove at Meigs

Meigs enters the season with a new head coach in former Marauder Mike Bartrum who went on to star at Marshall and had a 14-year NFL career as a backup tight end and longsnapper. He won a couple of Super Bowl rings with New England.

The Marauders were 6-4 last year and lost some key players including running back Jeffrey Roush who had more than 1,000 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.

The top returning players are led by quarterback Ty Phelps who gives Meigs a more balanced offense. The backfield features the tandem of Dillon Boyer and Jordan Hutton.

Meigs’ main problem will be the lack of experience and they must adjust to a new system under Bartrum.

Coal Grove has been adjusting to the loss of talented running back Bryan Steele.

However, the Hornets still have a solid group of skilled personnel including quarterback Alex Bare, fullback Brandon Hogsten, running back Isaiah Gunther and wingback Kyle Estep.

South Point at Point Pleasant

First-year head coach Rick Marcello begins his coaching career with the Pointers against a Point Pleasant team that was 13-1 last season and reached the state championship game for the first time in school history.

The Big Blacks lost quarterback Eric Roberts, two-way lineman Trey Livingston, wingback Brandon Toler and running back Anthony Darst, but three of their top five rushers return including Tylun Campbell, Marquez Griffin and Teran Barnitz.

The top returning linemen are seniors Conner Templeton and Andrew Williamson.

Point Pleasant has reached the playoffs four straight seasons and have an 11-game regular season winning streak and 13 straight home games.

Symmes Valley at Eastern Meigs

The Eastern Eagles were just 3-7 last year and have 26 players on the roster, 20 from last season.

Second-year head coach David Tennant has experience on both sides of the ball and plans to utilize the spread formation that will relay on the passing tandem of quarterback Joey Scowden and receiver Max Carnahan.

Alex Amos and Wyatt Westfall both missed most of last season with injuries but have returned to add to the offense.

Eastern’s main concerns are up front with inexperience on both sides of the ball.

Chesapeake at Oak Hill

It will be a third head coach in three seasons for the Oak Hill Oaks as they open the season against the Panthers.

Chesapeake has rolled to wins the past two years the Oaks hope having 17 returning stgarters will help improve on last year’s 2-8 record..

First-year head coach Nathan Dugan will rely heavily on four-year starter Devon Davis (5-10, 205) who plays fullback and linebacker.

Davis will be joined at linebacker in the 3-4 system by returning starter Wes Harden (5-8, 185) while three-year starter Gabe Hall (5-11, 220) moves from linebacker to defensive line.

Senior Drew Haislop (5-10, 170) is back at quarterback and will run the offense. Behind him in the backfield will be Davis and Harden. The receiving corps is stacked and includes returnees Ryan Gaines (5-11, 175), Colton Cox (5-8, 150) and Jonathon Harrison (5-7, 130).

Portsmouth West at Fairland

The Dragons are facing a tough non-league schedule and it begins immediately with the Portsmouth West Senators who are the favorites to win the Southern Ohio Conference II title.

Although West lost some quality players including Levi Ratliff — now a walk-on quarterback at Ohio State — they have size and strength up front and some solid skilled players who fit the T-formation offense.

The Senators graduated eight three-year starters.

Merril Triplett returns as the head coach after a one-year absence and he is hoping to guide West to a third straight playoff appearance and their first league title since 2008.

Rock Hill at Minford

The Minford Falcons don’t have the team speed of the past few seasons, but they still have some solid linemen led by Jared McCray who has already gotten offers from Akron and Kent State and is being recruited by Ohio State, West Virginia and Penn State.

Minford operates offensive out of the wing-T and will use a 4-3 base alignment on defense.

Rock Hill opens the season with one of the youngest teams in school history. The Redmen had only two seniors and their best player — fullback and linebacker Shane Harper — will miss the first four weeks due to a knee injury.

Manchester at Green

The Manchester Greyhounds are trying to move forward with their football program. The Greyhounds join the newly-formed Ohio Valley Athletic League this season that includes Gamble Montessori, Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy, Hillcrest, Oyler, Riverview East and Miami Valley Christian Academy.

Manchester’s offense has two quarterbacks in junior Noah Gaffin and freshman Jordan Freeman. They are joined by running back Daniel Hernandez. The tight end figures to be Tyler Brummett.

Center Tylor Saunders is the only senior lineman and he also handles the kicking duties.

The young Greyhounds’ roster has grown to nearly 30 players this season.