Updated Thu, Aug 21, 2014 7:36 pm
Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks our reporters will be bringing you team previews for each team in the SEOAL, TVC-Ohio, TVC-Hocking, and our West Virginia teams. We continue in the MVL, where physical football is the name of the game.
In a league as deep as the MVL, New Lexington won’t have any easy path to the playoffs. In 2013, four teams made the postseason, and Tri-Valley made it all the way to the Division III Regional semi-final before falling to Athens 55-52 in a thriller.
Their road to the playoffs in 2014 won’t be any easier, as the Panthers are welcoming in first-year head coach David Rupe on top of losing 13 seniors from their 2013 squad. Rupe is installing entirely new offensive and defensive schemes, and he expects senior and third-year starter at quarterback Collin Russell to take the reigns of this new offense.
Rupe, who was an assistant at New Lexington the last time they won the MVL crown in 2006, will also lean on running back Tommy Russell and wide receiver Davey Abrams to fill the holes left by last year’s seniors and get the underclassmen acclimated to the pace of varsity football.
“The biggest difference is the pace of the game,” Russell said. “Most of these guys played JV [last year]. The difference between the two is huge; they are totally different games,”
Rupe has stressed repetitions in practice and a total understanding of his new system as key factors for the Panthers’ success, as well as utilizing the team’s all-around best aspect.
“Speed,” he said. “It’s definitely what we are best at. We need to get our guys on the edge and let them run.”
Although New Lexington has all the makings of a middle-of-the-pack team, they narrowly missed the playoffs last year and could make a strong bid for a playoff spot if they can capture a few big wins.
New Lexington will open their season on Aug. 29 when they travel to Lancaster for their annual season-opener with Fairfield Union, and will return home the week after for a big matchup against league-opponent Maysville.
'Gridiron Glory' returns on Friday, Aug. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on WOUB. You can follow the show on Twitter @gridironglory, like the Gridiron Glory page on Facebook, and follow along on Instagram @woubsports. You can also join the conversation throughout the season by using the hashtag #GridGlory.