Conference Snapshot: MVL

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The MVL proved to be one of the toughest football leagues to compete in during the 2011 season. Will anyone be able to dethrone the Tri-Valley Scotties or Sheridan Generals in 2012? Read on to see how each of the nine teams in the league expects to do in the 2012 season.

Crooksville Ceramics: By Nathan Tackitch 

There is change in the air in Crooksville; change that all members of the community hope will bring them their first playoff birth since 2004 and, eventually, their first state championship since 1977.  This change starts at the hands of first-year head coach, Brent Gorby.

Gorby, himself a member of the state-title-winning squad of ’77, has a simple philosophy that he has been employing this summer in an effort to get his team on track immediately. 

“We’re going back to old school football,” explained Gorby.  “We are the smallest team in the league.  So we are going to get [back on top] by pushing hard in speed drills, conditioning, and the weight room.”

Leading this push is third-year starting quarterback Lake Channel and lineman/tight-end hybrid Mitchell Swingle.  They will anchor a core of talented returning skill players, including wide out Dakota Jones, who have their coach’s expectations set very high.

“We really have a shot to have a run at the playoffs,” explained an enthusiastic Gorby.  “Obviously, it’s a tough league with the Tri-Valleys and Sheridans out there, but we have a strong senior class and some strong skill players coming up as juniors.  We hope we get on the right track so we can let momentum take us into the playoffs.”

If there is anyone who is suited to push this Ceramics squad to maximize their potential, it is Gorby, the hard-nosed Crooksville legend who, in the ’77 championship contest, recorded the clinching sack, grabbed the game ball from the opposing quarterback, and told him, “This is coming back with me to Crooksville.”

Gorby and his Ceramics have their expectations for 2012 set high, regardless of last season’s results, and plan to return another state-championship football to Crooksville’s trophy case sooner rather than later.  

John Glenn Muskies: By Justin McCauley

They call these days the dog days of summer because its hot and humid every day of the week. Many of these days are long and tiring, but for some these days are a start of a journey. A journey that is long and difficult, but a journey that the John Glenn Muskies accept so that they can get to their dreams and goals can be reached.

This journey for John Glenn starts on August 24th at home against Barnsville. After a disappointing season by the Muskies in 2010, finishing the year with a 3-7 record, coach John Kelley hopes to improve on that in 2012. 

Coach Kelley is positive about this upcoming season for his team. This year’s Muskies team is older and has gained experience from last season. Only losing a few starters on both sides of the ball this veteran team looks to compete for the MVL title. The one big question for Kelley is going to be finding a new starting quarterback this year.

By no means will this years schedule be an easy one for the Muskies. A look deeper into their schedule shows that they start conference play in week 3 against a Maysville team with a new coaching staff, but their schedule doesn’t really pick up until the second half of the season were they have four of their toughest opponents in the final five games of the year.

It will be a good test for the John Glenn team heading into post-season play to see where as a team they stand going forward towards their goal of winning the MVL title.

Maysville Panthers: By Justin McCauley

In Maysville this year’s start to the season means a new start for the fans, players and coaches. This past spring legendary high school football coach Whit Parks decide to resign as head football coach of the Maysville Panthers. This year the Panthers will be lead by first time head-coach Craig Clarke.

Coach Clarke was a long time assistant coach and defensive coordinator for Coshocton High School. Clarke plans to bring his defensive schemes as well as his success over from Coshocton to the Panthers for this year and many more years to come.

On the offense side of the ball Clarke says he will be running a wing-T offense this year. Clarke also plans on improving on the inconsistency of last year’s Panthers team who finished at a modest 5-5. Clarke would like to continue the winning ways that the Panthers ended last season by beating Morgan 38-7 to end last season.

This year the Panthers open the year at home against Columbus Academy on August 24th. A few other key games that highlight this years Panthers schedule is the following week when they travel to Tri-Valley. 

The next big game is when Coach Clarke leads his Panthers back to his old stomping ground as Maysville travels to Coshocton for a mid-season rematch full of headlines and storylines.

With an older team it will be interesting how quickly Clarke can gain the respect of the locker room because the quicker they come together, the quicker they can start to contend for an MVL title.

Morgan Raiders: By Nathan Tackitch

The Morgan Raiders football program will look to progress from lessons learned in last fall’s campaign and have a season to remember in 2012.  Improvement is the number one goal for this football team: a team that finished 0-8 in the MVL, 1-9 overall, and was outscored by 224 points in league play. 

The road to attaining any improvement, especially in a viciously competitive league like the MVL, is a long, hard road, yet, third-year head coach Nate Smith has a sharp focus on achieving this improvement one game at a time.

“Everyone has to do their job,” explained Smith, “Our theme this year is ‘Hold the Line’.  In the old days of fighting battles, in order to win the war, everyone had to do their job and ‘hold the line’.”

 Smith understands that winning individual battles over and over again is the key to winning any war and he has conveyed that message to his athletes.  Now, there is only one more mental barrier for his Raiders to break through.

“Our biggest hurdle that we need to cross is our confidence,” said Smith, “We are focused on our first scrimmage with Athens and going down there and competing and proving to ourselves that we can win. 

Morgan’s competitive ability was lacking last season, but with returning senior leaders like Kaleb Driggs and Austin Campbell leading the charge this fall, there is a belief that this team can succeed.  The next step is to go out and prove it on the field so the Raiders can gain real confidence.  

New Lexington Panthers: By Morgan Overbey

After winning only two games in their 2010 season, the Panthers hopes were replenished after turning things around and winning seven games in 2011. They were undoubtedly the Cinderella story of the conference. New Lexington head coach BIll Nutt hopes to keep their positive momentum going into this season.

“It’s still early on, but their attitudes are good and they are working hard,” said Nutt in regards to their pre-season preparation. “We have a lot of kids who really care about the game so things are looking good.”

With quarterback K.J. Hook graduated, New Lex will have a new leader take the reins. Alex Bryant, a former linebacker, will be under center for the first time.

“We lost some talent, but we have a lot of players who are capable of stepping up and taking their place,” Nutt said. “If we keep working hard like we have been, that will happen.” 

Coach Nutt said he does not think this season will be a rebuilding year, but that will be determined by whether or not they can put everything together. Along with Bryant, other key returning players for the Panthers consist of running back Taylor Brown, wide receiver Jerald Spohn and offensive lineman Caleb Spencer.

Last season the Panthers were at an advantage with the depth they had in their skill positions and also their impressive defensive play. Despite the undying competition in the MVL, Coach Nutt has high hopes for the Panthers this season, but he says he does not want to look too far ahead.

“I look forward to winning games, but most importantly I look forward to coaching the kids and building relationships,” said Nutt. 

Philo Electrics: By Matt Digby

Philo will head into this season ready to challenge for an MVL title, after a 6-4 season filled with highs and lows.

Head coach Dirk Lincicome thought his team was capable of finishing higher than tied for third with Maysville and New Lexington. 

“I think the season could’ve gone a lot better. We had 23 seniors but they didn’t take on as much of a leadership role as I would’ve liked,” says Lincicome. 

Lincicome says the Electrics’ 6-4 record alone should serve as some motivation to go into this season ready to perform.

“Some teams would look at 6-4 as a successful season, but we’re not one of those teams. The coaches weren’t excited about it, nor were the players. We’ve been at this level for two years, and we feel ready to improve.”

If Philo is going to take that next step, they’ll need everybody to raise their game. Many of the key players will be on offense, where quarterback Zach Sheridan, running back Caleb Wiseman, and offensive lineman Elijah Talk will be among the leaders while needing to stay healthy at the same time.

“Zach’s a great player; he’s always ready to go in on every single play, and Elijah’s also very talented, and he’ll get a lot of time on the field,” says Lincicome.

“Caleb’s main goal is to stay healthy. If he’s healthy, he’ll be great,” he said.

Sheridan Generals: By Matt Digby

Sheridan went 9-2 in a 2011 season dominated by offense, when they scored at least 30 points in nine games, but the majority of the starters were their 15 seniors, which means a new group of players will get to make their mark on 2012.

“It’s tough to rebuild around younger guys, but when you have only 6-7 seniors, that’s what we’ve got to do,” Generals head coach Paul Culver said.

Among the notable returnees include offensive lineman and future Ohio Bobcat Tate Leavitt. 

“Tate’s had a great summer; everybody has done really well, but Tate is definitely one of our key leaders,” Culver said.

But Sheridan will also need big players on defense, after the Generals lost a 68-53 shootout to Dover in the first round of the playoffs.

“That was an unusual game. We had been putting up 40-50 points every other game last year, but to give up 60 was new to us.”

With many starters gone on defense, look for defensive linemen Joey Eversole and R.J. Waugh to lead on that side of the ball.

With the season only a month away, both Culver and his men are maintaining their goal of staying focused on the next game. That kind of focus is important, especially when they take a trip to Dresden in Week 9.

“We’ve got to get better as each week goes on, and every game league game is big, not just Tri-Valley. They spanked us last year, we’re ready to play them, but we have eight teams to play first,” Culver said. 

The Generals’ quest for another MVL title begins August 24 against Lakewood.

Tri-Valley Scotties: By Colin Brown

Coming off of the best season in school history last year, Tri-Valley has incredibly big shoes to fill.  Luckily for the Scotties, the two-headed monster that is Nathan Strock and Austin Jones will be back and better than ever to drive Head Coach Justin Buttermore’s high-powered offense.  Joining them on both sides of the ball is Tyler Edwards-Frick who is the big man in the trenches.  Another key returning player for the Scotties is Devin Moran who doubles as a wide receiver and defensive back. Moran, however, broke his arm during off-season workouts and will miss the first four to five weeks of the season.  Replacing their main receiver will be a big challenge for Tri-Valley.

The Scotties have other holes to fill as they lost some significant players from last season’s 11-2 team.  Tri-Valley lost J.T. and Jordan Campbell who anchored the team’s offensive and defensive lines.  One of the Scotties’ biggest losses is their kicker, wide receiver and defensive back, Matt Amicone, who was incredibly instrumental to the team’s success.  Replacing Amicone’s talents in every aspect of the game will be quite the task.

Coach Justin Buttermore is hoping that he has found the right replacements so that his team doesn’t miss a beat.  Hunter Mohler, a sophomore wide receiver and defensive back could be an influential new face for the Scotties.  Another Tri-Valley player who will be filling in the wide receiver and defensive spot is Trevor Kroufkoupf.

“Trevor needs to be a play maker,” said Coach Buttermore, who noted that Kroufkoupf will be playing strong safety alongside Strock.

Although the team is projected to be atop the MVL Coach Buttermore says that the team has a long way to go and they don’t have much depth.  He also stated that the team will need to develop more offensive and defensive lineman if they want to be successful.  

West Muskingum Tornadoes: By Morgan Overbey

Under Coach Paul Perry in 2009, the Tornadoes had their best season in nearly thirty years finishing with a 9-2 record, and they also hosted their first playoff game since 2005. After Perry stepped down, long time Tornado offensive coordinator Jeremy Ketcham took over the head coach position in 2010.

The past few seasons have been unfortunate ones for the West Muskingum Tornadoes. In their last two seasons, they have won a total of only two games.

In 2010, the Tornadoes offense was held to 13 points or fewer per game, but they were able to make some progress this past season. The team was led by wide receiver Shey Herd, who was undoubtedly the bright spot for the squad. With Herd graduating, it looks as if the Tornadoes may be in the same rebuilding boat this season, but they could be brewing up another storm like the did in 2009. 

Unfortunately for the Tornadoes, the beginning of their season is going to be a challenge. They start their regular season play against River View, and proceed to play Sheridan, Tri-Valley and John Glenn the three following weeks.

Although it seems the Tornadoes have been going through a bit of a rough patch, they look to turn things around this season.