High school football: Tecumseh hopes to contend for playoffs

Tecumseh improved to 5-5 last season after a 4-6 record in 2015, but senior lineman Kody Horn knows expectations are higher for a football program with eight playoff berths in the last 16 years. Horn said he and his fellow seniors want the team to be a playoff contender this season.

The Arrows made the playoffs every year from 2008-2012 and in 2014 but have missed the last two postseasons. Horn said he’s noticed a lack of leadership the last two years and wants to change that.

“We want to show the young guys how to lead so they know what to do when they’re older,” Horn said. “We’ve been doing it all year. The intensity in the weight room’s been a lot higher, and we’ve been working a lot harder.”

The difference has been noticeable to third-year coach Chris Cory.

“I think our senior class has done a good job at stepping up and leading the younger kids,” Cory said. “They’ve been at all the workouts and speed trainings. There’s a lot of good kids, and to name a few would be injustice for all the other ones. We’ve had a number of kids working extremely hard.”

Horn is one of six returning starters on both sides of the ball. Junior quarterback Will Sowder returns after throwing for 631 yards last year. Junior Gavin Wasson is the team’s top returning rusher, and senior Clay Mastin the top receiver.

Senior Jayden McFarland played quarterback, running back and tight end last season and should figure heavily in the offense again. Linebackers AJ Betleyoun, a junior, and Devin Alltop, a senior, are the team’s top returning tacklers.

“I really like the mix of older guys we have coming back with some new guys who’ll be starting for the first time,” Cory said. “… I think we’re going to get things turned around this year.”

Tecumseh opens against Fairborn at Spitzer Stadium on Aug. 25.

Scheme change: The Arrows ran out of the shotgun most of the time last year but will have Sowder under center this season. Cory said though they're still a run-first team, he's confident the change won't affect their ability to pass.

“This gives us the opportunity to run some sets we want to run, more play-action stuff,” Cory said. “I don’t want to say spread and I don’t want to say wing-t. We’ll kind of be in-between.”

Two scrimmages: The Arrows have two scrimmages on the schedule, both at Spitzer Stadium: Aug. 8 against Tippecanoe and Aug. 18 against Carroll. The OHSAA allows teams to have three scrimmages, but with only a little over 50 players, Cory said he doesn't want to put players at additional risk of injury.

“When we had three scrimmages, we had a lot of injuries,” Cory said. “We were scrimmaging Piqua, who’s really big and physical, and it seemed we’d always have two or three guys injured after that one. I think two’s enough. That gives our guys a chance to prepare against two good programs and also keep them healthy for Fairborn.”

Thursday TV game: Tecumseh's Week 3 game against Bellbrook will be broadcast live by Fox 45 on channel 45.2 for the second consecutive season. The station broadcasts one game a week on Thursday nights involving Miami Valley teams.

The Arrows had a bad showing on TV last year in a 32-0 loss in Bellbrook. Cory agreed to move the game to Thursday again this season to give his players a chance to perform better.

“A lot of things went wrong in that last year,” Cory said. “I think the kids are looking forward to the opportunity to play better.”

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