PREVIEW: Alexander Hoping to Improve From Last Place Finish in 2013

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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 TVC-Ohio, where everyone is chasing the Athens Bulldogs. 

When the Alexander Spartans take the field this year behind by first-year head coach Alex Penrod, they will do so with the goal of improving on the 1-9 overall record and last place finish in the TVC-Ohio from 2013.

Penrod, previously the defensive coordinator for Gallia Academy, has never held the head position before, however he feels that he is well equipped to usher in a new era of Alexander football.

“I was fortunate to have played for, and worked for great coaches,” said Penrod, who played also quarterback at Logan High School in the early 2000s. “[Current Parkersburg South coach} Mike Eddy is the one that has groomed me for this position by instilling trust in me for things within the program ‘outside of football.’ So with that experience, I was acclimated to step in and already know what to expect as far as the little things to run a successful program.”

Although Penrod is confident in his abilities as well as the talent on the Spartans’ roster, he knows that a turnaround will not come overnight.

“The biggest challenge that this year’s team faces is learning how to win,” Penrod said. “It’s easy to train and practice to be successful on the field, but putting everything together to [actually] win is different. Coming off a 1-9 season last year, they haven’t tasted success yet on the football field.”

With that being said though, Penrod has been very encouraged by what he has seen from the Spartans so far in practice.

“I think we are slightly above where I anticipated we would be,” Penrod said, “and that comes with credit to these young men challenging themselves every day to make a name for this program. To achieve success, it has to come from everyone involved. They believe in the program, the staff, the concepts, and most importantly, each other.”

On the field, the Spartans will rely on a multitude of upperclassman to lead the team’s efforts, headlined by senior quarterback Brody McGrath, who figures to lead the offense with the help of fellow seniors Josh Barnes and Jacob Wirick, as well as juniors Lukas Thompson and Taylor Kimbrough.

On the defensive side of the ball, junior linebackers Mason Chapman and Trent Bradbury will be counted on to lead the Spartans defense.

Penrod acknowledged that a TVC-Ohio crown probably isn’t in the cards this year but wants people to know that Alexander football will give it their all every game.

“We have worked to continually develop and better ourselves every day,” Penrod said. “I can’t guarantee victories, but I can guarantee our young men will conduct themselves with strong character and pride on and off the field.”

The Spartans begin the 2014 season with a rivalry game, as Federal Hocking comes to Stewart on Aug. 28.  

'Gridiron Glory' airs every Friday night 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.