GALION – The 2014 football season may be Galion’s first in the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference, but that isn’t tempering the expectations of Tigers’ coach Chris Hawkins.
Galion will be a member of the MOAC Red Division, consisting of River Valley, North Union, Pleasant, Jonathan Alder, Fairbanks and Upper Sandusky.
Both defending Red Division champions River Valley (11-1) and North Union (10-2) advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season. They each return plenty of talent and should be a tough test for the Tigers.
The MOAC Blue Division consists of Centerburg, Fredericktown, Highland, Mount Gilead, Northmor, Cardington, Elgin and East Knox. Upper Sandusky will leave the MOAC after this season to become part of the newly-formed Northern 10, which longtime MOAC member Ridgedale also joined.
“This league is loaded with great football teams with a great football tradition,” Hawkins said. “It is going to be a battle every Friday night, and with the little knowledge of returning teams, I think Pleasant, Jonathan Alder, North Union and River Valley need to be considered the favorites.
“We expect to contend for a title as well.”
Galion returns plenty of experience from last year’s squad, which finished 9-2, 6-1 in the North Central Conference. The Tigers won a league title and advanced to the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Hawkins’ squad lost All-Ohioan quarterback/utility player Dareian Watkins and wide receiver Alex Armistad— two individuals responsible for making the offense go last season to the tune of 37.3 points per game.
“We have very smart and athletic kids competing for that position,” Hawkins said. “We need to replace our top two playmakers.”
Armistad had a conference-best 934 yards receiving on 47 catches. He scored 13 touchdowns.
Watkins threw for 1,456 yards and ran for another 1,287, accounting for 35 total scores.
Despite the uncertainty revolving around Galion’s signal caller, the program has plenty of depth in the skill positions, in addition to a big offensive line.
Probable offensive starters include juniors Jacob Fryer and Drake Barnett at quarterback, senior running back Arby Thompson, senior receivers Cario Davison, Jermaine Bruket and Jordan Valentine, along with junior wideout Colten Moore.
Up front, look for junior left tackle Zack Throckmorton, senior left guard Deke McCoy, senior center Brenden Pratt, junior right guard Jacob Staiger, junior right guard Paul Keller and junior right tackle Isaiah Davis to be the leading names.
Defensively, the Tigers boast great size up front and will rely on an athletic secondary with plenty of depth.
Probable defensive starters include senior defensive ends Tristan Schroeder and Jordan Valentine, senior tackle McCoy and junior Jacob Staiger. The linebackers figure to be Thompson, Drake Barnett and Kevin Bowsher.
Cornerbacks Brad Wenninger and Jacob Fyer, strong safety Davison and free safety Jermaine Burkett patrol the secondary. Sophomore Conner Moreton is the kicker.
The Tigers kickoff the season with a home opener against longtime county rival Bucyrus at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Aug. 29 BUCYRUS
Sept. 5 at Madison
Sept. 12 at Keystone
Sept. 19 at Buckeye Valley
Sept. 26 JONATHAN ALDER
Oct. 3 UPPER SANDUSKY
Oct. 10 at River Valley
Oct. 17 FAIRBANKS
Oct. 24 at North Union
Oct. 31 PLEASANT
2013 Results (9-2, 6-1)
40 Fairbanks 12
21 MADISON 10
28 KEYSTONE 13
35 COLONEL CRAWFORD 14
63 CRESTLINE 8
46 Buckeye Central 0
13 Wynford 14 (OT)
48 Riverdale 12
42 Bucyrus 0
27 UPPER SANDUSKY 0
14 Kenton 58