PERRY TOWNSHIP – Perry coach Jesse Kill goes into his fifth season at the helm of the Commodores with a sense of realistic optimism.
“Last year we only had five starters back, and this year we have 18.” Kill said. “Two years ago, our lines averaged 165 pounds, and this year they average 260.”
Throw in the fact that Perry has junior quarterback Plummie Gardner returning for his third season as the starter with senior wide receiver Brandon Neal to throw to, and the Commodores feel they can not only compete but win week in and week out.
“Last year we were in every game until the second half, when our youth and inexperience showed.” Kill said. “We hope to be in a position to win games at the end this year.”
The Commodores have four starters back on the offensive line, and Kill says they are bigger and stronger than in the past. Kill also credit new line coach Luke Taviano with doing wonders with both the offensive and defensive lines.
Defensively, the Commodores will operate out the 4-3 set, and Kill hopes to be able to count on his linebackers to solidify the defense.
Senior Dustin Lauck returns at middle linebacker and will be flanked by seniors Sam Sanders and Robby Mulcahy as the outside linebackers.
“That’s a lot of experience and senior leadership at linebacker.” Kill said. “Those three bring a lot to the defensive side of the ball.”
Kill looks for the Northwest Central Conference to be a toss-up this season, with Lehman Catholic and Fort Loramie on top, with Riveside, Upper Scioto Valley and Perry all looking to break into the upper tier of the league.
The Commodores face three early tests, as they open the season with games against Troy Christian, Allen East and Ayersville.