Southeastern High School sophomore quarterback Wade Eriksen runs the ball against Northeastern during a five-team scrimmage on Saturday morning in South Charleston. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
Photo: Michael Cooper
Photo: Michael Cooper

High School Football: Experience key for Southeastern

Last year, a young Southeastern High School football team went 3-7 in Payton Printz’s second season at the helm.

With a year of experience under their belt and several returners on both sides of the football, the Trojans are hoping to make some noise in 2019.

“We have quite a few kids that got experience last year,” Printz said.

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The Trojans were competitive in several of their losses last year, including against eventual playoff teams Mechanicsburg and Greeneview.

“It comes with youth and still learning what we’re trying to do,” Printz said.

The Trojans return sophomore quarterback Wade Eriksen, who threw for 1,446 yards and 11 TDs and rushed for 346 yards and seven TDs. As a freshman, he threw 19 interceptions, which came as a result of trying to do too much, Printz said. Eriksen has worked hard in the offseason to reduce those numbers this year, he said.

“His freshman mistakes are out the door,” Printz said.

He’s also got a special bond with his brother, senior wideout Tucker Eriksen, the Trojans’ leading returning receiver. He caught 30 passes for 380 yards and five TDs.

»HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Youth movement underway at Northeastern

“They’re two of the finer players in our conference,” Printz said. “They’ve got a special bond as brothers. They connect quite a bit with one other.”

Southeastern also returns All-Ohio linebacker Hayden McKee, who led the Ohio Heritage Conference with 135 total tackles last season. In the offseason, McKee lost 55 pounds and will move from offensive line to running back, Printz said.

“He’s coming up and rocking people like he also has, defensively, but he’s getting there faster because he’s so much more fleet footed,” he said.

Junior Tanner Stoops will serve as the team’s primary running back alongside Wade Eriksen in the backfield. Junior Aaron Flores led the OHC with 13.5 sacks last season.

Printz will also serve as the team’s offensive coordinator running his trademark spread offense.

A year ago, the Trojans ran a 3-5-3 defensive set, but will switch to a more traditional 4-3, Printz said. Former Graham coach A.J. Woods will takeover as defensive coordinator this season after running the offense last year.

Southeastern High School senior wide receiver Austin Sanders tries to elude a Greenfield McClain defender during a five-team scrimmage on Saturday morning in South Charleston. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
Photo: Contributing Writer

To make the playoffs in Division VII, Region 28 for the first time in a decade, the Trojans will have a navigate a difficult schedule that includes three teams that qualified for the state playoffs a year ago.

They open the season with two Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division opponents — at Northwestern on Aug. 30 then Graham in Week 2.

Southeastern will play three new crossover opponents this season due to Ohio Heritage Conference scheduling rules. The Trojans will play West Liberty-Salem in Week 3 and West Jefferson the following week.

In Week 5, they’ll host Printz’s old school — Triad. Printz went 86-72 in 15 years as the Cardinals head coach, guiding them to five playoff berths. He’s joined on the coaching staff by his son, John Printz, who also played for the Cardinals.

“We did a lot there and I’ve got some fond, fond memories of some great kids,” he said.

Last week, the Trojans spent a few days at Camp Clifton — the second straight year they’ve held practices at the campgrounds in nearby Yellow Springs — to come together as a team, Printz said.

“I really think it helped,” he said.

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