Union County’s strength is front and center.
Drew Deilkes, Evan Bourne and David Kist will be the heart of an offensive line that will protect an entirely new set of skill positions for the Patriots.
Deilkes is 6-foot-2, 308 pounds and Bourne 6-0, 215. Kist, the third of the senior trio, is 5-11, 180.
“They played every snap last year,” said UC coach Rich Padgett, back for his sixth season. “We’re really leaning on them heavy this year.”
Joining them on the line is expected be fellow senior Bobby Foreman and freshman Josh Moore.
“Look at Lincoln last year. They had a great season and they were a veteran group on the offensive line,” Padgett said. “That’s where it all starts. You have to win the game in the trenches. Having experience there is a great first step.”
Gone are the Pats’ rushing, passing and receiving leaders from 2011. In their place are a crop of new faces, with Mitch Snyder at quarterback, Wyatt Krom and Shane Molsey at fullback, Kory Finch and Brandon Himes at tailback and Nick Bass at receiver.
“We’re just looking at some great effort and for our technique to improve as the season goes on,” Padgett said. “The first two weeks, we’re cross-training everybody. Everybody is learning two offensive and two defensive positions. They’ll settle down into one of those positions.
“With the number of freshmen and sophomores we have, we don’t want to be throwing those kids to the dogs.”
Deilkes, Bourne and Kist will also take up positions on the defensive line, with Krom and Himes at linebacker, to be joined by Cole Osborne, who will also play tight end.
Foreman and Dutch Wyatt will see time on the defensive line, while Finch and Bass will be at the corners, with Bryce Fields at safety. Snyder is expected to rotate throughout the secondary.
“That’s one of the things on the defensive side, we’ll be two players deep at the positions,” Padgett said.
Union County opens Friday at home with North Decatur. The Patriots take to the road Aug. 24, traveling to Adams Central, before opening Tri-Eastern Conference play at home Aug. 31 opposite Union City.
“Our non-conference schedule is not easy at all, and we open TEC play with one of the favorites in Union City,” Padgett said. “We’re going to get tested early. That’s why we have to build trust. Can we trust the guy next to us and can we get great effort every play? I think that will really pay off for us as the season progresses.
“We’ll have guys who can move seamlessly from one point to another. This has been a very unselfish group so far.”
Union County finished 3-7 overall last season, 2-5 in the TEC.
“It’s going to be a dogfight every year,” Padgett said of conference play “As we learned, a key injury here and there dramatically impacts every one of the teams in the TEC.
” … I think we’re going to be a new look, a little different than what people have seen in the last couple of years. But I think it will be exciting football. Our kids will learn their lessons quickly.”