It falls upon Dan McGill to keep the West Liberty-Salem High School football program humming.
Former head coach Toby Smith molded the Tigers into the best of the Ohio Heritage Conference. WL-Salem hasn’t lost more than two games in any season since 2006. The Tigers have punched three perfect 10-0 regular seasons from 2009-12. They’ve been to the Division V postseason five of the last six seasons.
And there’s more. WL-Salem is on a 26-game regular-season win streak and has swept the last two OHC titles.
That’s the kind of success that landed Smith in the Central Buckeye Conference at Bellefontaine.
A WL-Salem grad, McGill was an assistant to Smith the past eight seasons.
- Triad (8-3) once again will lean on the McIntyre brothers, Tre and Trent. Tre had 2,200-plus all-purpose yards. Trent had 1,200 yards passing and five TDs rushing and passing until being sidelined with an injury after just four games. Keeping him healthy will be key.
The Cardinals haven’t had a piece of the OHC title since sharing it with Northeastern in 2003. Although few in numbers, 16 starters return. Combined with the graduation losses of WL-Salem, this is likely coach Payton Printz’s best team to contend for a title and earn another postseason spot in his 14 seasons at Triad.
- Mechanicsburg (4-6) could be an OHC title contender for the first time since winning in 2008. The Indians were 3-2 in the second half of last season, return 17 starters and most have at least two years of varsity experience.
- Greeneview coach Neal Kasner has most of his team back following a 5-5 season. Best of the bunch is record-setting QB Chance Fry.
- Southeastern (5-5) is looking to return to the OHC hierarchy behind senior standout linebacker James South. He had 98 tackles and six sacks last season.
- Catholic Central coach Steve DeWitt is the dean of OHC coaches, entering his 35th season. The Irish has been to the playoff seight of the last 10 seasons but slipped to 2-8 last year.
3 key players
Chance Fry, Greeneview, jr., QB: A starter since his freshman year, Fry helped the Rams (5-5) post their first non-losing season since 1999. Passed for 908 yards and ran for 750. Had a combined 17 TDs.
Tre McIntyre, Triad, sr., RB/DB: Accounted for more than 2,200 all-purpose yards and tallied 27 TDs. Just as productive on defense, amassing 97 tackles and nine INTs.
Brandon Purk, Mechanicsburg, sr., WR: Set a program record with 54 receptions for 1,049 yards and 10 TDs as a junior.
3 key games
Aug. 30, Dayton Christian at Greeneview: Another non-league season opener for the teams. DC won a 67-21 shootout last year and went 10-0, losing to WL-Salem in the playoffs.
Oct. 4, Triad at Mechanicsburg: This will be the litmus test to see if the Indians have shaken their second tier status and are OHC contenders.
Oct. 25, West Liberty-Salem at Triad: This Week 9 game likely will decide the OHC title and playoff positioning.
OHIO HERITAGE CONFERENCE