The recent football misfortunes at Cedarville High School are in the numbers: 1-8-1, 1-9, 4-5, 2-8 … . You have to go back to 2001 to find a winning season.
“I’m ready for a breakthrough year and I’m sure the kids are too,” said second-year coach Jason Christian. “But we’re not going to break through unless we continue to get better because there are going to be a lot of good teams in the league.”
The Indians have a few reasons for optimism: a slew of returning starters, a talented backfield, an experienced offensive line and the biggest offseason commitment to weight training in years. And while last season yielded one victory, the Indians were far more competitive only to be undone by injuries and turnovers.
“We can’t afford to do that,” Christian said. “Or we’ll be in the same situation we had last year where we’re in games but can’t win them because we turn the ball over too many times.”
Christian is counting on an experienced backfield to not only hold on to the ball but to control the clock and score points.
Hudson Grant, a 6-foot-1 senior, is starting his third season at quarterback. Christian states Grant’s qualities like a list of bullet points: runs the option pretty well, needs to improve as a passer, leads well, stays positive, stays poised.
Junior tailback Caleb Coe and senior fullback Adam Cain, a pair of 200-pounders, will be counted on to move the ball and stay healthy. Both missed time last year with injuries. Coe rushed for over 500 yards to lead the team. Jonah Young, a state qualifier in the hurdles, moves from tackle to be the third back and add speed. When Grant needs to throw he will look for senior Dalton Ary, last year’s top receiver.
Four seniors are returning starters on the line: Jacob Leightenheimer (185), Justin Liming (195), Josh Rogers (195) and Matt McMahan (260).
“They’re going to be the key,” Christian said. “If those guys can get it done up front, we’re going to be OK.”
A lot of the offensive starters will be starting on defense. Christian said the keys to a good defense will be inside linebackers Cain and Liming.
“We want them to lead the team in tackles, and everybody else does their job so they can make plays,” Christian said. “Those are the two that we really need to have good years.”
Christian is glad to have newcomer Jed Fulmer to handle the place-kicking. Expect the Indians to go for two only when necessary and for Fulmer to get a few field-goal opportunities.
After being the better team in two scrimmages, Christian sees more confidence in his team.
“I think they know that we expect to win,” Christian said. “They can see that they’ve gotten bigger and stronger, and in the first two scrimmages we’ve done well. That always gives them confidence.”
Cedarville opens at home Friday against Madison Plains.