Here was the first preview I did all the way back in 2008 (I predicted a 7-3 record and nailed it).
It's time for another, and while I'm no longer in the predictions business, I wanted to share some info to hopefully make us all better and more informed followers of our Red Riders.
The easy stuff first, here's our 2012 Varsity Roster, as well as our schedule.
We're in Division 4 & Region 13 (Region Map) for a second straight year & also one of 12 teams in Division 4 to have made 3 straight playoff appearances.
In terms of all-time records, we currently have 596 wins as a program and have played in 992 games in school history. Hopefully that 600th win comes several weeks before our 1,000th game in week 8 against Mansfield Madison. For you history buffs, here's the breakdown of all 992 games to date and our record against each school as well as our all-time coaching history and our all-time playoff breakdown.
As far as this season, I think it's a given that we lost some real talented seniors from last year's team. I think there are 6 or 7 seniors from last years team who are playing college football, led by Mason Monheim at Illinois, Stewart Turner at Ball State and Drew Brenner at Ashland. Those 3 won't be easy to replace...but I think, as always, the cupboard isn't bare in Orrville.
There's speed on this team, led by Joel Zook, Tyrone White and Brandon Johnson. Sophomore Bryce Short is a dynamic player and will be an asset on both sides of the ball, and fellow sophomores Kayronn Inman and Martavius Dyson could be guys who have an impact as well.
All will provide targets for 3rd year QB Kyle Lichti, along with seniors Chase Infield & Nick Graber and juniors Kyle Ritchie, Elijah Coleman & Lincoln Ballinger.
The line returns 3 starters from last year, led by juniors Trevor Summers & Dane Kick & senior Zane Vierheller. Junior Harrison Brown and seniors Nathan Simon and Austin Siegrist will also see time on the line and saw experience in 2011 as well.
The defense will be anchored by Summers and Infield at linebacker and many of the same faces on offense playing both ways.
I say it every year, but the season will again hinge on how well the Riders start, and with 3 of the first 4 games on the road, there is not such things as a slow start to the season. From week 1 all the way through week 10, the Riders will be tested. A tough non-league schedule (at Northwest, Triway and at Copley) wait on the Riders out of the gate and a 7-week gauntlet known as the Ohio Cardinal Conference awaits them starting in week 4. It's widely accepted that the OCC may be the most balanced it's ever been with West Holmes being voted on as the preseason OCC favorite. The Knights come to Orrville in week 6.
In our region and with our schedule, 6-7 wins will probably be good enough for a playoff spot, and that's always the goal in Orrville. I think this year's team is flying a bit under the radar, and that's a good thing. I think after last year's 2nd round playoff exit, the coaches are refocused and energized, and no team will out-condition us, which always seems to pay dividends early in the season.
The big key to me is being efficient on offense. We can't turn the ball over and give the other team free points and expect to come back every time via the big play. We have to out-execute teams and value the football in order to be successful. We also have to score points too...obviously. In all 8 wins last season, we scored 20 points or more...in our 4 losses, we scored less than 20 points each time. That's the magic number, on offense and defense I believe...score more than 20 and hold the other team to less than 20.
What I like about this team in speaking briefly with Coach Davault is that it's a hard-working team. Coach Davault even said as a group, this is the hardest working team he's ever been around. That's encouraging because 2012 is going to present plenty of challenges....how the Riders respond during the course of a game and from week to week will define the 2012 season.
Where: Dr. Martin Smilek Stadium - Canal Fulton, OH (Map) (Parking Directions)
When: Friday August 24th, 7pm
Coaches: Doug Davault (50-22 in 6 seasons at Orrville) & Vic Whiting (107-43 in 14 seasons at Northwest -- 201-71 over 24 seasons)
Radio/TV: Game will be the Big Time Sports Game of the week. Broadcast will air Saturday morning and also on Sunday night on channels in the Akron/Canton/Massillon area. Not available on Armstrong Cable.
All Time Series: Orrville leads 21-7
Last Meeting: 2011 (Orrville won 41-27)
As always, week 1 of the high school football season contains a lot of unknowns and nowhere moreso than in this battle of traditionally strong programs. Orrville and Northwest, playoff qualifiers in 2011, were both hit hard by graduation, but the respective 2012 squads will look to carry on each school's tradition.
For Northwest (Team Info page via FridayNightOhio.com), gone is QB Nick Riley and RB/WR Ronnie Beers from last season's 8-3 playoff team. They will look to junior TD Culp to assume the reins of the offense and run the ball behind a large offensive line.
Orrville comes in to 2012 with signal caller Kyle Lichti back for a 3rd season under center. He'll look to spread the ball around to a quick group of receivers led by seniors Tyrone White & Brandon Johnson and balance that with a running attack led by junior Joel Zook. Trevor Summers and Chase Infield will look to lead the Rider defense from their linebacker positions.
Both teams will debut new kickers and punters, and in past matchups between the two schools, special teams always seem to play a critical role.
Since renewing their rivalry in 2005, Orrville has won 4 of the 7 matchups including the last 2 in a row, but in those 4 wins, their average winning margin has been less than 9 points per win.
This game will likely go down to the wire with the team that's able to make the big play and avoid the costly turnover likely to come out on top.
Should be a fun ride...please remember to be positive and support these kids. Good luck in 2012...and GO RIDERS!!
I'll once again do my best to send out game updates via Twitter (@RedRiderSports) and on my facebook page.