* Coach: Alan Hess (second year).
* Last season: 1-9 (lost to Monrovia 40-0 in semifinals of 2-A sectional).
* Outlook: The Wolfpack have gone 1-29 over the past three seasons and will start this season with just 16 players. Hess said he hopes to have as many as 20 within the next couple of weeks.
Hess said they’ve remained positive.
“They’ve come together well as a group,” he said. “It will be a challenging season for us. The kids are aware of that. They know going in what they’re facing. The ones who are there have a lot of heart and they love the game.
“We have good kids,” Hess said. “We just don’t have enough of them. It’s frustrating. But we’re not giving up on the season, by any means.”
* Coach: John Edge (second year).
* Last season: 3-7 (lost to Heritage Hills 61-0 in 3-A sectional first round).
* Outlook: The Bluejackets lost 16 seniors, but Edge is starting the second year of a rebuilding process and he said the players are more comfortable with his run-first system. “We’ll be pretty young all across the board,” Edge said. “But I think we’ll be stronger than we were last year. . . This isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon,” he said.
Mitchell will start year two of the marathon with three tough games – against Brownstown (Aug. 17), Springs Valley (Aug. 24) and Paoli (Aug. 31).
* Top players: CN A.J. Abplanalp (Jr., 5-9, 280), QB Lucas Jacub (Jr., 5-9, 175), LB Ben Burris (Jr. 6-1, 185), WR Sean McCord (Sr., 5-10, 175), RB Zane Davis (Sr., 5-7, 165).
* Coach: Brian Balsmeyer (47-24 in seventh year)
* Last season: 9-3 (lost to Triton Central 35-27 in 2-A sectional final).
* Outlook: The Rams are led by Lee Wroblewski, a versatile athlete who plays some at wide receiver, running back, cornerback and even some quarterback. “He’s fast; he’s quick,” Balsmeyer said. “He’s our best football player, without a doubt.” Although he doesn’t run a lot in Paoli’s three-back set, he averaged 13.3 yards a carry.
“We have some good talent,” Balsmeyer said. “But we’ve only got one football. We’ve got to learn to be unselfish and develop that mentality and become team players.”
* Top players: WR/CB Lee Wroblewski (Sr., 6-1, 180), FB/LB Travis Allen (Sr., 5-10, 200), C/DL C.J. Andry (Sr., 6-0, 240), LB Josh Rice (Sr., 5-9, 170), NG Tristin England (Jr. 5-10, 270).
* Coach: Greg Gibson (first year).
* Last season: 5-5 (lost to Linton-Stockton 48-7 in 1-A sectional first round).
* Outlook: Gibson, an assistant coach at the school since 1990, says he won’t change much. Last year’s campaign ended 12 straight winning seasons, and first-year coach Greg Gibson believes that will change. “Our line is going to carry us,” Gibson said.
In the end, Gibson wants more balance on offense and to limit turnovers. “We’re got a great chance (to be better),” Gibson said. “We’re faster and we’re stronger than we were last year.”
* Top players: QB Dakota Schaad (Jr., 6-2, 190), RB Austin Leclere (Jr., 5-11, 165), RB Levi Hilgenhold (Sr., 5-11, 165), WR Colten Hedinger (Sr., 6-3, 175), WR Devin Martin (So., 5-10, 175)
* Coach: Mo Moriarity (2-9 in second year; 243-65 overall).
* Last season: 2-9 (lost to Heritage Hills 53-0 in 3-A semifinals).
* Outlook: In his first year at Salem, Moriarity and the Lions took some lumps. This year, he said, they’ll be a bit more experienced and more competitive. “Last year, we started from ground zero,” he said. “It was a tough situation for everyone. Our kids are learning how to practice.”
The Lions still are young with 40 freshmen or sophomores among the 63 on the roster. “We’re in better shape,” said Moriarity. “We’ll be more competitive and have more chances to win games. . . It’s coming.”
* Top players: C/DL Ben Stephenson (Sr., 6-0, 215), OT/DT Jared McNeely (Sr., 6-2, 235), OT/DT Darrell Troncin (Sr., 6-0, 220), QB Klayton Dougherty (Sr., 6-0, 220), RB/LB Andrew Maudlin (Jr., 6-0, 190).
* Coach: Phillip Bowsman (28-25 in sixth year).
* Last season: 5-5 (to Indianapolis Lutheran 35-6 in 1-A sectional first round).
* Outlook: The Senators will start an unproven sophomore quarterback in Cody Maudlin, and Bowsman said his “supporting cast” will need to give him some help. “He’s a dedicated, hard-working kid,” Bowsman said. “We do have a lot of confidence in him.”
Maudlin does have some capable targets returning – Chad Thompson, Matt Brackney and his brother, Jared.
The line is anchored by a pair of three-year starters – Robert Chandler and Jake Howell.
* Top players: WR/DB Chad Thompson (Sr., 6-2, 190), WR/CB Matt Brackney (Sr., 6-2, 190), WR/CB Jared Maudlin (Sr., 5-10, 170), DT/C Robert Chandler (Sr., 5-9, 260), OT/DT Austin Green (Sr., 6-2, 195), OT/LB Jake Howell (Sr., 5-11, 185).
— Kenzie Winstead, The C-J