The first week of high school football has arrived. The camps, the two days and all the conditioning periods led to this moment for the schools. County teams will be on the road to begin their 2022 season.
It’s almost time to consider this season and leave last season in the past. However, this is only the first week. What happened last season is still relevant.
This week should be a preview of what the teams will look like during the season. Teams will evolve, improve and change over the course of the season. But the first week leaves a significant first impression.
After talking to coaches during the offseason and watching a few practices, here’s what you should watch from each of the games this week.
Arcanum at South Adams: The Offensive Line
Every high school coach likes to talk about their offensive line and its importance. First-year head coach Matt Macy is full of praise for his offensive line. He said that although the team lost a few starters from last season, the guys behind them are also very good.
Trojans were a passing offense last year. Quarterback Bryce Schondelmyer had 3,278 passing yards and 45 passing touchdowns last season. Schondelmyer left after leaving Arcanum and Macy said he wanted to establish the run a bit more than the team did last season. It will be up to the guys up front if Arcanum can handle the ball effectively this year or not.
Ansonia at Riverside: The Racing Game
Ansonia is also under a new head coach after Macy left to take the Arcanum job. Adam Hall arrives after serving as the head coach of Tri-County North for the past two years. Hall was also an assistant coach under Macy at Ansonia.
Hall inherited a team of veterans as only a handful of seniors graduated. However, their first rusher Peyton Beam was one of those seniors. Beam had 1,196 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Beam also led the team at receptions.
It looks like the next man will be Exzavier Moody, who was the second best runner last year. It might end up being more of a committee in the backfield, but the Tigers will run the ball. Last year at Tri-County North, Hall’s team had 396 rushing attempts and 1,660 rushing yards.
The week one race game should show just how physical Ansonia will be this season.
Greenville at Eaton: Fourth Quarter
The green wave struggled to win games in the fourth quarter. Their 2-8 record last season could be better if they win more battles in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Bart Schmitz said the coaching staff focused on winning in the fourth quarter. It’s not a problem of effort, rather it’s the team that has to find ways to win the late game.
For example, Greenville tied Eaton’s 18-18 game at home last season. They lost 32-18 after allowing Eaton a touchdown and a six pick.
The team is firing a number of players, including first-team All-MVL running back Brock Short. Schmitz said the team could have learned from those experiences last year to get over the fourth quarter bump. A strong performance by the team in the fourth quarter could provide an optimistic outlook for the rest of the season.
Mississinawa Valley at Bucyrus: Quarterback play
Mississinawa Valley lost senior quarterback Malachi Levesque at graduation. However, head coach Steven Trobridge is excited to start the season with his new quarterback, junior Chastan Daniels.
After a 1-9 season, the Blackhawks got to work after the season to prepare for this year. The players worked hard in the weight room and watched a ton of movies in the offseason. Daniels was right in this group set to be the team guy this season.
Trobridge said they had to reign in on Daniels a bit when the baseball season started. From what he hears, Daniels is committed to getting ready to lead this team. He made a debut last season, but struggled. He had an off season to learn from that experience and improve. Trobridge talked about Daniels and the Blackhawks could be an exciting team if Daniels’ off-season work pays off.
Tri-Village in Troy Christian: Overall Team Performance
The main thing to watch from the Patriots is whether they look like the same or even better team from last season. They’ve lost a few seniors on the offensive line, but most of their production is coming back. Junior quarterback Braden Keating is back after throwing for 1,998 yards, second-best in the conference. Junior Reed Wehr is back after leading the team in rushing yards and sacks. Senior Justin Finkbine is back after leading the team in receiving yards and tied for receiving touchdowns. Senior Austin Rismiller is back after leading the team in tackles.
If the team can bond with new head coach Matthew Hopkins immediately, the team could have a better year than last season’s 11-2 campaign. They made the regional semi-finals last year.
Hopkins said the players expect to win a lot of games this season. A big step towards meeting those expectations is to play like they did last year, at a minimum.
Versailles to Celina: The Running Game
Another Tigers team where they could run the ball effectively this season. The defending Division V champions have spots to be filled by their outgoing seniors. One thing that might help relieve new players at the start of the season is running the ball.
Head coach Ryan Jones said the coaching staff are delighted with the position of the players they have. In their scrimmage against Greenville this offseason, the running game exploded for them. Max and Joel Gehret played piece after piece in the fray. Like Ansonia, the running game is only great if the team can be more physical than their opponent.
It’s almost impossible for Versailles to top what they did last year, but they could repeat it. A good racing game could help them do that.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]