FINNEYTOWN – At Finneytown High School, it is all about improving on the little things. For second-year head football coach Ryan Hubbard, that will make all the difference.
“Our guys are more mature and they understand that you have to win the day, then the week, and then worry about the game,” Hubbard said. “You can’t just show up on Friday. Each day presents a new challenge. So our mentality is, when we go into a game, we focus on the play, then the series, then the game. They’re starting to buy in.”
The Wildcats finished last season at 2-8 and 1-6 in the Cincinnati Hills League. They return a small but solid nucleus from that squad with four returning starters on each side of the ball. Led by senior wide receiver/defensive back Delshon Watson – one of the fastest players in the entire CHL – the Wildcats will look to get the ball into his hands often.
Cameron Crump, who showed potential last season, is also back on both the offensive and defensive lines. Finneytown’s run game will see a bit of a change in the backfield as a pair of juniors, Blake Foster and Robert Glenn, will be taking a good chunk of carries this season. Jake Stevens, along with Crump, will be providing protection for them up front. Stevens and Foster will man line backing spots on defense.
Finneytown will need to rely on those veterans this season as the squad boasts one of the most difficult small-school schedules in the state. Of the 10 opponents on Finneytown’s schedule this season, half of them made the OHSAA playoffs a season ago – Shroder, Madeira, Wyoming, Mariemont and Taylor.
Throw in a high-profile contest on Aug. 28 at the University of Cincinnati in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown against Roger Bacon, as well as a tough road trip to Indian Hill Oct. 9, and you have the making of a very tough 10-week period.
Thanks to the Wildcats’ new mindset, however, no one is thinking about that – especially their coach.
“Not to sound cliché, but we’re not worried about how tough our schedule is,” Hubbard said. “We’re focused on our team and what we can control. We worry each day about getting better in practice. We worry about winning the practice, then winning the week and then worrying about the game from there. … Instead of looking at it (the schedule) as one giant challenge, we’re taking it day-by-day – getting better. Not just on the field but in school as well.”
Aug. 27 – at Roger Bacon (at UC’s Sheakley Center) Thursday at 8 p.m.
Sept. 4 – at Shroder (at Stargel Stadium)
Sept. 11 – Cincinnati Christian
Sept. 18 – Maderia
Sept. 25 – at Deer Park
Oct. 2 – Reading
Oct. 9 – at Indian Hill
Oct. 16 – Wyoming
Oct. 23 – at Mariemont
Oct. 30 – Taylor
All games on Friday at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.