Not many people were expecting a whole lot from River last season. The Pilots had one senior and a team of relative unknowns.
That won’t be the case this winter for coach Mark Romick and the Pilots.
‘‘Last year, we had a lot of young kids,’’ Romick said. ‘‘We’ve got eight lettermen coming back. We’ve got a lot of parts, but it’s going to come down to to whether or not those parts fit well together to make a total package.’’
The fitting together of those pieces was delayed some because the Pilots’ football season extended into a 12th week.
The Pilots finished last season with an 8-12 mark and won the sectional title and eventually fell to state semifinalist Hiland. Gone from that team is point guard and heart-and-soul Kyle Earley, who was an all-OVAC and all-District player.
The inside is where the Pilots figure to have the most strength this winter.
The inside is anchored by 6-foot-7 center Terry Kirkland who blocked more than 100 shots last season.
He’s joined on the interior by 6-5 forward Zach Hammond who was one of the Pilots’ leading scorers a season ago.
Hammond has been slowed by an injury he sustained during football season.
Doing a brunt of the dirty work on the inside for the Pilots will be senior Harold Earley (6-3).
The Pilots’ backcourt could also be a strength if the guards learn their roles quickly and learn to work without Earley.
Also back is 6-1 guard Jamie Brown who saw action a season ago. Sophomore Dylan Potts (6-foot) expects to be in the mix for playing time. He saw some varsity minutes late in the season. Junior Ty Ash is another who saw time and expects to play a bigger role.
River was the beneficiary of a transfer during the offseason. Derek Blackstone came to River after being in the Monroe Central district.
Ticketed primarily for reserve duty are: Kurt Indermuhle, Kerry Wichterman, Isiah Greer, Tyler Jeffers and Devin Potts.
Romick’s coaching staff returns intact. Gard Curtis is again the chief assistant. Kris Pfalzgraf is the reserve coach, while Scott Piatt and Justin Cochran are also on the staff, handling the freshmen.
Because of the extended Pilots’ football season, River will open the campaign Dec. 8
Fact BoxRiver Boys
Nov. 30: Monroe Central 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 7: at Caldwell 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 8: Frontier 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11: Shadyside 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14: Shenandoah 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 8: at Buckeye Trail 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 22: at Tyler Cons. 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 29: at Frontier 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 2: at Magnolia 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 4: Frontier 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8: Tyler Consolidated 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11: at Fort Frye 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 15: Caldwell 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 19: Magnolia 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22: Buckeye Trail 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25: at Shenandoah 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 29: at Shadyside 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 1: at Monroe Central 7:30 p.m.