Gone from the Nelsonville-York roster is an outstanding group of seniors – including four year starting quarterback Jay Edwards (Ohio University) and running back Bear Lewis (Cincinnati Harmony Prep) – who dominated the Tri Valley Conference’s Ohio Division over the past four years to the tune of a 20-0 conference record and four league titles. Even though it seems this type of hit from graduation should be more than any Division V program should be able to handle, the Buckeyes are out to prove in 2007 that although players come and go – tradition never graduates.
Head coach David Boston, who is entering his fifth year looking to continue a run that has seen his Buckeyes in the playoffs in each of his first four seasons, realizes that there are many questions that cannot truly be answered until kids are actually put in spots and forced to respond. He is, however, very confident that the Buckeyes return a solid nucleus and have several young, talented players that are ready to contribute in a big way.
“Anytime you lose the type of seniors that we lost a year ago, there are going to be questions and concerns entering the following season,” Boston said. “With that said, we have a great tradition here at Nelsonville and we expect ourselves to reload and continue that success. Programs graduate players every year, but the programs with the great tradition find a way to develop the young kids and continue to win.”
The Buckeye offense returns a solid core up front led by All-TVC performer Trevor Polley. Polley is joined by Carl Sarver and a host of other big, strong, hard working linemen that will be asked to give the Nelsonville skill guys time to do their thing. Those skill guys will be anchored by junior quarterback Michael Barrick. Barrick, a fine athlete who has done a number of things for the Buckeyes the past two years, will now go under center and lead a well-balanced attack that features junior fullback Zach Talbert and sophomore tailback Derek Arnold, as well as wide receivers Josh Dickerson and Terrance Fox. Talbert and Arnold are both great football talents that give you a thunder and lighting look, as the Buckeye backfield combines speed and toughness that can not only move the chains but can hit the homerun ball as well. Dickerson and Fox provide Nelsonville a similar threat in the passing game. They both are sure-handed across the middle, but can stretch the defense and make big plays through the air.
“I feel like we have a team that will be able to throw it around a little more,” said Boston, who is only the third coach in Nelsonville history (Boston’s father, David Boston Sr. and Boston’s brother-in-law, Kevin Meade being the other two). “In the past few years, Jay (Edwards) would drop back and if things broke down he would just use his ability to make plays; whereas, this year, we feel Michael (Barrick) has great athletic ability to improvise, but we hope we will continue to improve upfront and spread the ball around a little more in our passing game.”
Nelsonville’s defense returns a strong nucleus as well.
With Polley and Talbert blowing up most running schemes in the middle, the Norway brothers – senior and three-year starter Patrick, along with junior Robert – lead a linebacking crew that really flies to the football and makes a lot of plays. Add in many of those same athletes that you will see handling the skill spots on offense, as well as some really talented youngsters that have been waiting their turns to get out there on Friday nights, and the defensive backfield, although aggressive, is not that vulnerable to the big play.
“We feel like our defense is going to have much better overall speed,” Boston said. “We are not a defense that has great size, but we do have some athletes that are smart and aggressive and can really fly around and make plays.”
Nelsonville will spend the first half of its season outside the TVC. The Buckeyes play some early rival games against local teams, such as their Week 1 opponent- Athens. The Bulldogs are a quick, athletic team that seems to always play the Buckeyes tough early each season. Nelsonville will then travel to Division IV Cheshire River Valley in Week 2 before heading into a Saturday night showdown in Week 3 when it travels to archrival Glouster Trimble. After a Week 4 home game with Crooksville, Nelsonville will get its final tune-up when they travel to Columbus in Week 5 to take on a very talented Bishop Ready football team that many predict will be an important piece to the Division V playoff picture.
The second half the season, the Buckeyes will look to capture their 18th TVC crown, when they play their five-game, Ohio Division schedule that includes home games with Division III McArthur Vinton County in Week 6, Pomeroy Meigs in Week 7, and Belpre in Week 9. Nelsonville’s only league road test will come in Weeks 8 and 10 when they travel to Wellston and Albany Alexander, respectively.
“We have high expectations here at Nelsonville every year, and this year is no different,” Boston said. “We have a great deal of respect for our league and our local rivals, but we are a football team that expects to win each week. We want to win the league again and return to the playoffs.
“We know it will be tough, but that is the expectations that have been established here at Nelsonville and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”