MCGUFFEY – Upper Scioto Valley head coach Dustin Price will have 17 players this season and he is looking at the positives of having that small amount of individuals coming out for football.
Price is hoping the extra reps and hard work transitions into victories coming off a 3-7 season.
“We are right around where we were at the end of last year,” Price said. “I felt like we had a pretty good work ethic throughout the preseason and the summer. I think one of the biggest advantages is that we don’t have the depth or the backup for positions, so it is going to be maneuvering people around, and the positive thing about that is that the kids know the entire scheme.”
Price added that last year some younger players gained some valuable experience, and that will go a long way into being prepared for the upcoming year.
“The freshmen Kadyn Hurley, Jackson Rohrs and Conner Sanders got tons of experience last year, and they got progressively better throughout the year,” Price said. “We had some key lineman coming back and eight returning starters and all, but one was on both sides of the ball.”
Expect the offense to rely on the ground game with the return of seniors Devon Sousley and Jackson Rohr.
“Devon Sousley will be our wing back, and he will also be in the backfield,” Price said. “We may split him out sometimes, and we will rely on him heavily. He is a load at 225 pounds, and he is quick. A lot of will go through him.”
Price added that Rohr will serve as the lightning to Sousley’s thunder. He saw limited action in the final couple of games and was effective.
Kadyn Hurley, who also saw time last year at the end of the season, will return as quarterback. The sophomore signal-caller will be called on to lead the Rams this season.
In front of these two talented runners will be an offensive line comprised of young and old. Two seniors, Alex Gayheart and Nick Coushenhour, return and will be the leaders on the line. Joining them will be Blaine Castle a 6-2, 240-pound freshman.
“There is a good mix of experience and new guys,” Price said. “We need to slow the game down and control the clock. We need to just grind it out. I don’t expect us to be a big play team. I don’t see us hitting a lot of big plays, but we can get chunks of yards at a time.”
On defense, Sously returns as the middle linebacker for the Rams.
“He is really solid in the middle and can play sideline to sideline,” Price said. “We feel like we are pretty solid up the middle.”
Hurley and Ryan Vermillion will be joining Sousley as linebackers.
Returning in the defensive backfield will be Evan Thompson and Rohr, and Price said they have worked with them extensively throughout the summer and the preseason.
“They have come a long way since our first 7 on 7,” Price added.
Price said because he feels the run defense is solid, so they have focused on shoring up the pass defense and not giving up big plays, especially in this day and age of pass-happy offenses.
If the Tigers can stay healthy and some of the younger players can develop, Price is optimistic going into the season.
“I think we can be competitive each and every game and I think our conference is wide open this year,” Price said.