PREVIEW: Coming Off First Playoff Appearance in School History, Southern Has Many Roles To Fill

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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-Hocking, where Trimble and Wahama are still the top teams.

The 2013 season was a magical one for the Southern Tornadoes, as they finished with an 8-2 overall record which culminated in the first playoff appearance in school history.

The 2014 team will try and build off of last season’s success in order to make this coming season even better. It will be no easy task, however, considering the Tornadoes lost eight seniors and four-year starters from the playoff team, most notably running back Tyler Barton.

Southern will have trouble finding someone with shoes big enough to replace Barton, who was thei Tornadoes’ leader during their historical playoff run, rushing for over 1,000 yards during the regular season.

Offensively, Coach Kyle Wickline loves to keep the ball on the ground, while putting a heavy emphasis on developing a stout defensive front that keys on stopping the run. The lack of experience among the starters will hurt them but with so many young players, Southern is bound to find replacements for all the seniors.

The Tornadoes expect quarterback Tristen Wolfe and utility man Ryan Billingsley to step up as leaders for the young squad this season. Wolfe was a solid dual-threat quarterback last year who will see many more rushing attempts this year with Barton gone. Wickline will, however, likely utilize a two-quarterback system with Wolfe and sophomore Blake Johnson, who is a better passer.

Southern will kick off their season at home on Friday, Aug. 29 against Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m.

'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.