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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Orrville Football: 2011 Season Preview

Here is my season preview football article that will also appear in this Friday's (8/26) OrrViews. I know a lot of my readers are out of the area, so I figured I'd post it here to reach those not in or around Orrville.

Enjoy.  Oh, here's a roster, schedule and a Region 13 map for your reference.

Now enjoy....
Riders seek to continue the tradition in 2011
Tim Snyder, OrrViews Sports

High expectations are the norm in tradition-rich football towns all over Ohio, and it’s no different in Orrville. This years Red Rider team hopes to improve on their appearance in the Division 4 state semifinals a year ago, and will begin the season on August 26th at home versus the Northwest Indians.
Entering his 6th year as Red Rider sideline boss, head coach Doug Davault (42-18 career record, 7-3 career playoff record) returns several key players and overall, 18 lettermen from last year’s 10-4 squad, but he also faces the challenge of replacing several key losses from graduation, especially up front on the offensive and defensive lines.
“Where we’re lean is on the offensive and defensive line,” said Davault. “We’ve got about five starters returning on each side of the ball, but just one lineman on each side of the ball back from last year.”
Where the Riders have some experience is at the skill positions. Seniors Mason Monheim, Drew Brenner and Stewart Turner will all play large roles in the team’s offensive and defensive plans this season. Monheim (189 tackles, 623 rushing yards) is the reigning OCC Defensive Player of the Year and will anchor the defense from his middle linebacker position. Brenner will move from safety to defensive back on defense and Turner (1300+ all-purpose yards in 2010, 10 total TD), also a defensive back, will be a threat on special teams as a kick and punt returner as well as a favorite target of junior QB Kyle Lichti.
Lichti comes off a sophomore season that saw him start in 13 of the 14 games and throw for over 2,000 yards and 19 TD’s.
Seniors Trevor White and Ronnie Lehtomaki will be the lone returning starters on the defensive and offensive lines, respectively.
Handling the kicking duties again this season will be senior Dylan Tanner who hit 40 of 49 extra points and was also 5 of 6 in field goal attempts last year.
“We’ve got a group of seniors who have played 27 games over the past two seasons and we’re hoping that experience can carry us into this year,” Davault continued.
Others who will either start or see significant playing time include seniors Dylan Lemon, Wally Woods, Cody Weaver, Alex Samson, Brandon Lockhart, juniors Nick Graber, Zane Vierheller, Tyrone White, Brandon Johnson and sophomores Joel Zook, Trevor Summers, Harrison Brown and Dane Kick.
Captains for the 2011 season are Mason Monheim, Matt Davis, Drew Brenner and Trevor White. The captains were voted on back in the spring by their fellow teammates.
Davis, a two-way starter at linebacker and running back, injured his knee during the team’s first scrimmage against Minerva and will unfortunately miss the entire season.
“Matt is still a captain, and he’ll be at all the games,” Davault said. “It’s going to be a very difficult thing for him, but he’ll still have the opportunity to play college football.”
The Riders will again tackle a very difficult schedule that will see them play eight of their ten games against teams with larger enrollments. Only Triway in week 2 and Clear Fork in week 9 are similarly sized schools.
“We don’t have any easy games on our schedule, week in and week out we’ll need to come to play.” Davault said of the team’s difficult schedule. “It’s one of those things that if you’re fortunate enough to get to the playoffs, it helps you.”
The home schedule will be particularly daunting with Northwest (week 1), Copley (week 3), Lexington (week 4), Ashland (week 7) and Wooster (week 10) all looking to be just as good, if not better than last season. Davault is counting on the community to come out and support the Riders.
“Hopefully what’s going on with our parking (because of the new high school construction) won't keep folks away because they’re all going to be meaningful,” Davault said of the Riders tough home schedule.
The Wooster game will again be on a Saturday this season.
A pre-season media poll has picked the Riders to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference, something they’ve only done once since joining the league in 2003 when they tied for the conference crown with Mansfield Madison. Coach Davault expects the league to be competitive each and every week.
“I think the league overall is as good as it’s been since I’ve been here,” Davault said. “There aren’t any weak links in the league, everybody’s good.”
The Riders will remain in Division 4 for the next two years per the OHSAA’s enrollment count that was released in the spring, but have been moved from Region 14 back to Region 13.
Regardless of expectations, goal for the 2011 season are the same as they’ve been in each of Davault’s six years at the helm.
“We set the same three goals, beat Wooster, win the OCC and win the first round of the playoffs,” said Davault. “Our kids want to make the playoffs and everyone strives to win a state championship, but realistically, if you can win that first playoff game, then you never know what could happen after that.”
“Our kids expect to excel and we’ve had some things already this year that are testing our will, but for the most part, we go expecting to compete every week and that’s all we can ask of the kids,” Davault concluded.

Additional Notes

The Red Riders enter the 2011 season with 588 all-time wins, putting them only 12 shy of 600.  Obviously, for that to happen this year, the team will have to make another deep playoff run.  If and when the hit #600, they will be one of only four OHSAA schools to have 600 wins AND 20 playoff appearances.  The other three are Steubenville, Ironton and Cleveland St. Ignatius.

Orrville vs. Wayne County
Speaking of playoff appearances....Orrville's 21 is tops in the Wayne Co. area...and just one shy of the combined appearances of West Holmes (4), Chippewa (1), Northwestern (3), Norwayne (2), Rittman (2), Hillsdale (2), Triway (5) and Wooster (3).  Not bad, huh?

Just a reminder to all, it's been THIRTY years since Orrville and a Wayne Co. League team have squared off in a football game.

Scoreboard Update
The new scoreboard experienced some delays in shipping and will not be ready for the first home game.  It will be installed for the Week 3 game versus Copley.

Preseason Hype
According to Cleveland Plain Dealer sports writer Bob Fortuna, the Red Riders will be hoisting the Division 4 state championship trophy in early December.  See here...  This comes on the heels of the JJHuddle website and OhioHigh magazine picking up to make the state finals (and lose to Kenton).  We all know about preseason hype and that it doesn't mean much if you can't back it up.  But let's hope Mr. Fortuna is from the future and knows something the rest of us don't. 

Game Updates
I'll again be providing score updates via Twitter and Facebook this year.  It's the easiest way to let lots of people know the status of the game.  If you're on Twitter and want updates to come right to your phone, simply sign in, follow @RedRiderSports, and turn on mobile updates and my updates will come right to your phone.  Make sure you turn off mobile updates after the game on Friday, or my tweets throughout the week will still come to your phone.  Here's a great link offering a Twitter introduction for those thinking about signing up.  To me, it's the quickest way to find news and especially valuable when trying to find a score on Friday nights.

Have fun this year
This is to the fans.  Yes, we have expectation for this team.  But expectations and expecting perfection is much different.  This team will commit penalties, will have fumbles and interceptions and maybe even (gasp!) lose a game.  Take it in stride.  Remind yourself that these are teenagers playing a game they love.  They do it for the community.  Don't sit on your hands and wait until this team "shows you something" before deciding to get invested.  Support them.  Show up early and stay until the end.  Travel to away games, make an evening of it.  ENJOY THE RIDE.....because it's over all too soon.

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