It's football season again? Wow. Feels like not so long ago we all walked back to our cars in Tiffin after the Ottawa-Glandorf game. I guess here we go again. This is the third season preview of Orrville football preview that I've done. We'll again hit the low-hanging fruit and try to answer some questions that me and many others have.
Some quick info for the matter of record.....
Seasons Completed: 100 (first documented season was 1903)
All-Time Record: 578-347-41
Region: 14 (Map of Teams)
Head Coach: Doug Davault (32-14 in 4 seasons, 4-2 in 2 playoff appearances)
All-Time Playoff Appearances: 20
Playoff Wins: 25
State Titles: 1 (1998)
2010 Captains: Tre Simpson, Sam Reusser, Derek Graber, Max Pirman
I'm sure when the season preview article appears in this week's Daily Record, it will have a "What will Orrville do after losing 19 seniors" theme, so let's get it out of the way right now....we don't have as much talent this year as we did last year. That was a special team that took us on a special ride, and you could easily justify the argument that we had the talent to be playing in the state finals.
But I will say this....we have plenty of talent on this team. We have a returning 1,000-yard rusher in senior Tre Simpson & a Division 1 commit (Indiana) in senior Max Pirman.
We have a very talented group of juniors in Mason Monheim, Drew Brenner, Matt Davis and Wooster transfer Stewart Turner. All will step on the field with talent and experience and will be dangerous game-breakers on both sides of the ball.
We have four experienced linemen returning from last year's squad in Dan Groves, Derek Graber, Sam Reusser, Derek Vance. This group opened holes for Tre all season and will be looked to provide stability in the trenches for another season.
With the "sure things" always come some questions...and there seems to be plenty of those this year as well. Let's start with the obvious one.
1. Who's the QB?
Or maybe the question should be, is there much of a difference between Travis Infield and Kyle Lichti? Infield is the senior and seems to be the starter from what we've seen in the scrimmages. Lichti (just a sophomore) has looked good in the two scrimmages. My opinion on each, they both look good and throw a good ball, but both are going to have to learn on the fly. You simply can't simulate the speed of a "full-go" game. All I would ask either is to manage the game, not try to force the amazing play and rely on your teammates to make plays.
I think in the end it's a simple formula, if we win with Infield, he'll remain the starter. If the team struggles, it makes sense to let the sophomore (Lichti) take snaps and gain valuable varsity experience. One thing I know about Coach Davault, he'll put the guy in who gives us the best shot to win.
2. Max's injury.
Seemingly as sure a sign that football season is around the corner, the Orrville football team gets to face adversity. It happened again this season as senior captain Max Pirman injured his foot. Initially thought to be a break, it was revealed to be a deep bone bruise. It was said he could be back as early as the Triway game in week 2. I know Max is just one guy, but to this team, it's a big blow. He'd have a big part in nearly every play on the field.....a harassing LB/DE with the speed to cover receivers and the strength to get after the QB, a WR/TE that makes a big target for a new QB, another down lineman to block for Tre and Mason, and the punter.
Here's hoping his injury heals quickly and he doesn't rush back for the Triway game if he's not ready. There's life after week 2.....the OCC schedule, the 100th Wooster game and the playoffs (hopefully).
3. Can Tre repeat his 2009 performance?
I'd like to think so, and him being bigger, stronger and faster should help. With a new QB cutting his teeth, it may be up to Tre and Mason Monheim to carry this team on the ground at times. Our line has to be up to that challenge.
4. Will our lack of depth hurt us?
Hey, we're Orrville, we have gotten used to running players both ways for years....but we're not a very deep team at all this year. Even before Max's injury, it was said we could not afford injuries of any kind. If guys start getting bit by the injury bug, it could make for a long season.
I really think this season can be just as good as last season, or could be one of those season where it all looks good on paper, but just never materializes. We'll be tested right out of the gate with three of our first four games on the road (Week 1 at Northwest, Week 3 at Copley and Week 4 at Lexington).
It's strange, I could argue that we'll start 4-0 or 0-4 and be just as convincing either way. I'm really not trying to play both sides of the fence, I just think it depends how we start. If we can establish a QB and get the ball to guys like Drew Brenner and Stewart Turner and let them make plays, and then toss in Tre and Mason running the ball, I like our chances.
Just like in past years, it's important to get off to a good start. A win over Northwest would be big for everyone and give the entire team needed confidence heading into a rivalry game with Triway.
So what do I think in terms of record?.....I'll say 7-3. Road games at Ashland and Lexington will be no treat. Clear Fork and Triway are home this year, so that gives us a slight advantage there. At Copley and Northwest will be the usual challenge.
In terms of playoffs, there's no dominant team in Region 14, so I think 7 wins will be enough for another playoff appearance, and maybe even 6 wins if they're against the right teams.
I'll be here all season, covering the Riders here and for Orrviews (exclusively). I'll do my best to provide score updates to my Facebook and Twitter pages just like last year. Let's enjoy the ride and support the guys through week 10 and beyond.