Defense will again be Hannibal River’s strong suit, seven starters back

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Hannibal River Pilots

Last year the Pilots made their second playoff appearance in three
years and fourth overall before losing to Shadyside 26-13 in the
regional semifinals. Defense was River’s calling card and it should be
again.

Seven starters return from a unit that allowed seven points or less in eight games.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

DL/OL D.J. Duke (6-0, 235, Sr.); FS/RB Dan Starr (6-1, 170, Sr.); CB/RB Taylor Potts (5-11, 155, Sr.); DE/OL Travis Riesbeck (5-10, 170, Sr.); TE/LB Brandon Sprouse (5-9, 150, Sr.); QB/DB Dylan Potts (5-11, 155, Jr.); RB/LB Tyler Brooks (5-10, 184, Sr.); RB/DB Devan Potts (5-9, 166, Jr.); OL/LB Jordan Clegg (5-10, 186, Sr.)

SEASON OUTLOOK

2007 Record: 10-2, Regional Semifinalist

Last year the Pilots made their second playoff appearance in three years and fourth overall before losing to Shadyside 26-13 in the regional semifinals. Defense was River’s calling card and it should be again.

Seven starters return from a unit that allowed seven points or less in eight games.

“We feel real good about what we have coming back on defense,” head coach Mike Flannery said. “I think last year’s defense is one of the top five we’ve ever had here and this year that defense is what will get us through the first three weeks. We take a lot of pride in our defense.”

Senior standout D.J. Duke (6-0, 235), a first team All-Ohioan, returns at defensive tackle and anchors the front seven for the Pilots. Other key contributors along the defensive front will be DE Travis Riesbeck (5-10, 170, Sr.), LB Jordan Clegg (5-10, 186, Sr.), LB Brandon Sprouse (5-9, 150, Sr.) and LB Tyler Brooks (5-10, 184, Sr.).

The secondary returns three of four starters, including FS Dan Starr (6-1, 170, Sr.), CB Taylor Potts (5-11, 155, Sr.) and CB Devan Potts (5-9, 166, Jr.). Dylan Potts (5-11, 155, Jr.). Greg Caretti (5-8, 134, Jr.) and Cody Caretti (5-6, 151, So.) should also log significant time in the defensive backfield.

“The big question will be plugging those four holes (at DE, DT, LB and CB) and acquiring some depth at those positions,” Flannery said. “One injury and we could be shuffling three positions.”

Offensively, Dylan Potts is back for his second season as the starting quarterback and Flannery believes the junior will be “one of the best QBs in the state before he’s done.”

“We’re going to ask a lot more of him this year,” Flannery said. ‘And he’s more than capable. He has the tools mentally and physically. His work ethic is tremendous.”

Taylor Potts, Devan Potts, Starr and Brooks will compete for time at running back. Expect Starr to log his share of touches. Flannery called him River’s “Ted Ginn.”

The offensive line is bolstered by Duke, Riesbeck, Sprouse, Taylor Potts, Tyalor Jeffers (6-4, 193, Jr.) and Joey Asturi (5-9, 223, Jr.)

River special teams should be solid with the return of sophomore kicker Tanner Wright.

“A weapon like (Wright) makes you sleep a little better at night,” Flannery said.

The Pilots open the season with back-to-back home games (Fort Frye and Magnolia) before going on the road for four straight (at Monroe Central, Toronto, Caldwell and Zanesville Rosecrans).

“The goal is to make the playoffs and go farther than the second game,” Flannery said. “We need to find a way to get past that second game.”

SCHEDULE

8/22 FORT FRYE (BEVERLY)
8/29 MAGNOLIA (W.VA.)
9/5 @ MONROE CENTRAL (WOODSFIELD)
9/12 @ TORONTO
9/19 @ CALDWELL
9/26 @ BISHOP ROSECRANS (ZANESVILLE)
10/3 BRIDGEPORT
10/10 SHENANDOAH (SARAHSVILLE)
10/17 @ BUCKEYE TRAIL (LORE CITY)
10/24 FRONTIER (NEW MATAMORAS)

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