LANCASTER – As hard as it is to believe, the high school football season is almost upon us.
Exactly two weeks from Saturday (Aug. 1), most area teams will begin two-a-day football practices. With that in mind, a lot of teams will be involved with team camps and 7-on-7 passing scrimmages as they inch closer to the official start of practice.
After a couple of subpar seasons, Lancaster had a solid year in 2014 and finished with a 7-3 overall record, including a 5-2 mark in the Ohio Capital Conference-Ohio Division. The Golden Gales were especially tough at home, going 5-0.
Even with a seven-win season, Lancaster fell just short of qualifying for the playoffs.
While the Gales lost a lot to graduation, especially along the offensive line, there are plenty of skilled players returning to make them competitive once again.
The schedule will look a little different this season, especially in the first three non-league games. Gone from the schedule is rival Logan and Canal Winchester, and the Gales won’t be playing against a Cincinnati-area team.
Instead, Lancaster will open the season with two home games against DeSales and Dublin Jerome and then hit the road to face Walnut Ridge before entering conference play.
Can Lancaster duplicate last season’s record? Time will tell, but getting off to a solid start in the first three games will tell a lot.
Amanda-Clearcreek and Liberty Union were the only two area teams that qualified for the playoffs in 2014. The Aces had to win their last two games of the season to get in.
The team returns all-state running back Jordan Leasure, who rushed for 1,800 yards, but Amanda-Clearcreek will have to replace most of its offensive line. If they can shore up their offensive front and look for Leasure to have another outstanding season, the Aces could be once again be knocking on the door of a postseason berth.
The Lions have been a mainstay in the postseason for the past several years, but they lost a lot of talented seniors.
Millersport had a breakout year in 2014. The Lakers not only snapped a 48-game losing streak but also finished with a 7-3 overall record. But they, too, fell short of making the playoffs. Terry Holbert, who did a terrific job at Millersport, is now the head coach at Logan Elm.
Bloom-Carroll finished 4-6 in 2014, but the Bulldogs lost several close games under first-year coach Wade Bartholomew. There is enough talent returning, and if they can get over the hump and win some of those close games, they should have a solid shot at making the playoffs.
Berne Union and Fisher Catholic both return solid quarterbacks in Hanson Holter and Jared Faulkner. Fairfield Union lost a solid senior class, and Fairfield Christian Academy is fighting a numbers game. The Knights finished the year with less than 20 players on the roster.
There are a lot of question marks, as there is for each team this time of year, but it won’t be long before some of them start to get answered.
It’s an exciting time of year for the teams and their fans. High school football is knocking on the door, and I, for one, can’t wait to see how everything unfolds.