It’s a year of transition for the Lucas High School football program.
In 2012 the Cubs were 3-7, 2-5 in the North Central Conference. But Lucas lost its affiliation when the NCC dissolved.
So, the Cubs are now calling the Mid-Buckeye Conference home.
In addition, coach Scott Spitler is looking at a trio of youngsters behind center. Junior Christopher Boyd is in a battle with sophomores Alex Switzer and Rueben Luna for the starting quarterback job.
“Offensively, our strength is the return of a veteran offensive line and our fullback,” Spitler said.
Indeed. Seven starters are back from an offense that averaged 28.9 points per game a year ago. It will start up front in 2013, led by tackles Ryan Cook (5-foot-10, 181 pounds) and the imposing Dalton Dennison (6-3, 336). Guards Matt Smollen (5-10, 168) and Vince Brock (5-10, 213) flank center Chris Nowicki (5-9, 327). All have starting experience.
There are also two tight ends in the Cubs’ Wing-T offense, with Tyler Roberts (5-8, 159) and lanky sophomore Aaron Scott (6-5, 197). Senior fullback Dominick Strassell (5-8, 165) is the leading threat out of the backfield.
“As an offense we need to improve our completion percentage in the passing game to compliment our rush offense,” Spitler said.
A leaky defense was the root of the problem in Lucas last year. The Cubs allowed a whopping 33 points per game, with seven foes cracking the 30-point barrier.
Again, the front wall will be filled by veterans. Scott and Smollen are at ends, with Brock at nose tackle. Sophomores Mason Galco (5-11, 170) and Ryan Cook (5-10, 181) are slotted at a couple of linebacker spots, with Strassell. Roberts and senior Kolton Bernhardt (5-10, 160) fill the gaps.
Strassel is a three-year starter at linebacker, and was second on the team with 89 tackles a year ago.
The secondary includes senior Sam Elienfield (5-10, 136), Switzer, Luna and senior Austin Wagner (5-8, 142).
“We need to improve on preventing the big play,” Spitler said.
Spitler, 41, is in his fifth year at Lucas and has a 13-27 record at the school. He will lead the Cubs into the new-look Mid-Buckeye Conference. There are only four football-playing schools among its six members.
Consequently, Spitler and athletic director Eric Teague had to get a little creative with scheduling. The Cubs have road trips to Vienna Mathews (on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border) and Upper Scioto Valley (near Lima).
Of Lucas’ 10 2013 opponents, only Plymouth and Centerburg are holdovers from last year.
“With the trips we have, our kids are going to get a good look at the eastern and western parts of the state,” Spitler said. “When you only have five schools playing football in the conference, you’ve got to do some different things in terms of scheduling.”
How that translates to the record this year is the challenge facing the Cubs.
“Our team goals include improving our level of play from last season and learning how to finish close games,” Spitler said.