Updated Thu, Aug 21, 2014 5:35 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.
Sweat gradually drips down the faces of the Sheridan Generals as they begin to drop down to the wet grass for push-ups. The Generals are getting geared up for the 2014 season but there is still a bad taste in their mouth from last season that they are using for motivation.
As the players drop down for another rep they mentally flashback to week six of the 2013 season when Sheridan sprinted off to an impressive 5-1 start, climbing the latter to the top of the M.V.L. with a playoff birth in sight. However, one win and three losses later, the Generals fell to 6-4 and slipped to fifth in the conference, forcing them to sit back and watch Tri-Valley, Philo, Maysville, and John Glenn, the top four teams in the conference, compete in the playoffs.
After only losing eight seniors to graduation, the Generals return a strong senior class that are more focused than ever on leading their team back to glory. Fresh off of an induction into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, longtime coach Paul Culver enters his 43rd season as a head coach, and his 33rd season at the helm of the Generals.
Culver and his players believe that a lack of unity and leadership have distracted their squad in the past but firmly believes that the leaders on this team have the skill set to guide the underclassmen back to the dominance that Sheridan once held in the M.V.L.
“Luke (Fox) and Nick Thomas along with our other seniors have done a great job of trying to get other kids involved and working harder and get things back to where they were,” Culver said.
Since taking the reigns as head coach of the Generals in 1981, Culver’s teams have claimed 15 MVL titles, made 17 playoff appearances and won two regional titles. The Generals were the State Champs in 2008 but have struggled to stay atop the conference the past few seasons.
“Nobody’s satisfied with 10-10 which is what we’ve been the past two seasons,” Culver said. “That’s just not the standards that we’ve set for our program.”
Offensive lineman Joey Palmer noted that the Generals had leaders the past few seasons but those leaders led the team in multiple different directions. He believes that in order to win games the Generals will need to become a cohesive team.
“We need to come together as a team,” Palmer said. “That’s our big thing this year, being a family.”
Palmer believes that chemistry has been a problem in the past but notes that the boot camp made the team come together which led to more trust and confidence in each other on and off the field.
Coach Culver’s eyes widen with excitement when asked about his senior returning starting quarterback Luke Fox. Culver has high hopes for his mobile quarterback and is confident that Fox has another level of potential that will shine soon.
“We’re very confident in Luke’s ability,” he said. “I still think he has another level that he hasn’t reached yet and he’s working awfully hard to get there.”
It’s apparent in practice that Fox motivates his players and improves with every snap and cadence which leaves Coach Culver and General fans with the excitement of what is to come when the big lights are shining on Friday nights.
“He just needs to find that next gear on a Friday night in the zone. That’ll come.”
Coach Culver believes that the team’s strongest attribute is learning to care about each other. He stresses physicality and toughness every day in practice and gives his team tough love when it comes to making mistakes.
“We need to learn to bounce back,” “It seems like it’s been a trend that when something goes wrong we hang our heads and we need to step it up and develop some confidence.’
Palmer’s trusts in his others leaders on the team attests to the new confidence that the 2014 Sheridan Generals possess.
‘With all of our leaders on our team we need to be focused on one goal and that’s an MVL championship and to make it to the playoffs.”
The Generals open up the 2014 season against Washington High School on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m.
'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.