Greeneview’s Clay Payton runs in for a Rams’ touchdown in the first quarter of the game at Madison-Plains during the 2017 season. Bill Lackey/Staff

Prep football: 2-time defending OHC South champ Rams in reload mode

The Rams graduated 11 seniors from last year’s team – including their quarterback, two of their top three rushers and top three receivers – following their fifth straight playoff appearance and second straight Ohio Heritage Conference South Division title.

But instead of stepping back, the Rams plan to step up. A veteran offensive line and experience on defense are keys to another successful run for the Rams.

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Seniors Nick Wolfe, Bryce Day, Bradley McCoy and Mike Hanson get things going up front for the Rams.

“They are all guys who had extended playing time last year,” Greeneview coach Ryan Haines said. “They were guys who definitely found ways to make contributions on Friday in our rotations. Now it’s their time to shine. I’m excited to see what they have.”

Senior running back Clay Payton also returns. The OHC South Division player of the year led Greeneview with 1,015 yards rushing (10.3 yards per attempt) and 15 rushing touchdowns.

“He’s the pulse of our running game,” Haines said of Payton, who rushed for a season-high 187 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries in a 42-21 win against Greenon in Week 6.

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Junior Dakota Mangan will also see quality time at running back after playing wide receiver last season.

Senior Craig Schiff, who moved into the Greeneview school district last winter after attending Wilmington High School, is the frontrunner at quarterback. Freshman Cole DeHaven is also in the running.

“(Schiff) is probably a running back by trade who will probably slide into quarterback,” Haines said. “We came to him a little bit about playing quarterback. He’s a kid that will do whatever the team needs. He’s done a really good job for us. He’s a kid who is getting better with his throwing mechanics. We’ve got a really good freshman quarterback (DeHaven) who’s going to be a good one one day. He’s definitely competed and pushed him along the way.”

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The Rams plan to run a multiple offense featuring a variety of schemes and looks to challenge defenses. Greeneview averaged 41.3 points during the regular season and allowed 11.6.

“It should be an offense that’s hard to defend,” Haines said. “We can spread the field out … and also have the ability to use our road-grading linemen who bring their lunch pails to work every day. The teams that are the hardest to defend … are the teams that are multiple. Right now we are showing that.”

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Defensively, the Rams are bolstered by Wolfe at nose guard and Payton at linebacker, along with Hanson, Day and McCoy at defensive end. Junior Ian Henry returns to add depth after missing time with a concussion last season.

“Those defensive ends will be hard to handle when you sprinkle that in with the nose guard who is fast and powerful,” Haines said.

The secondary is lean after the graduation of four seniors, plus the loss of the top backup at safety who moved to Colorado.

Haines has 39 players on the roster, which is up about seven from last season.

“It’s a good year to be bringing in the class we are. We’re bringing in a lot of freshmen,” Haines said. “I have some who will have to contribute quick.”

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Greeneview won the OHC South Division for the second straight season. The league title chase might not be decided until Week 10 when Greeneview travels to Greenon.

“(Last season) I think a lot of people thought whoever won that game had a leg up to win the South. This year it’s Week 10,” Haines said. “They return a lot of pieces. Everybody is looking at Greeneview as losing pieces. I think naturally people expect us to take a step back. We have a lot of kids in our football program who are going to do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

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