WELLSVILLE - Dave Skinner might not spend much time sitting on his couch watching soap operas, but this season is playing out like one of those daytime dramas.
''We are the young and the restless,'' the Wellsville coach said. ''We don't have much experience, but we've got a lot of energy and enthusiasm.''
The Tigers, coming off their second consecutive 7-3 campaign, were hit hard by graduation. The team lost 10 seniors, including standouts Jeremy Carter, Bubba Dowling, Nick Broughton and Brandon LaClair.
''It just means we have to work our tails off as a coaching staff,'' Skinner said.
Working to replace the lost production will be a full-time job for the Wellsville coaches. The Tigers have only one player - senior Chad Elliott - who reached the end zone last season.
Despite the uphill battle that appears on paper, Skinner wants nothing to do with any talk of a ''rebuilding'' year.
Aug. 26: at Toronto7 p.m.
Sept. 3: East Palestine7:30 p.m.
Sept. 10: at Lisbon7 p.m.
Sept. 17: Sebring7 p.m.
Sept. 24: at Southern7 p.m.
Oct. 1: McDonald7 p.m.
Oct. 8: Western Reserve7 p.m.
Oct. 15: at Leetonia7 p.m.
Oct. 22: at Jackson-Milton7 p.m.
Oct. 29: Lowelville7 p.m.
Win 6, Lose 4
''I hate that idea,'' the fourth-year coach said. ''We're just reloading with some younger kids. I think we've got as much talent as last year. They just have to realize the speed of high school football, and realize they can do this.''
Last year, the Wellsville defense proved to be a formidable unit and the strength of the team. The Tigers, excluding a 50-12 loss to McDonald, allowed just 9.4 points per game and had three shutouts. They held opponents to under 80 yards rushing in six of 10 games.
''The defense takes on the character of the guy that runs it, and I run it,'' Skinner said. ''I only know one way to coach and that's 100 mph to the football. It just depends how quick these young guys can pick that up.''
If this season's squad is to keep up the defensive tradition, it will depend heavily upon Elliott, who will be moving from outside linebacker to safety.
''This way they can't run away from him,'' Skinner said. ''We'll put him right in the middle of the field. He's a missile when he takes off.''
There is only one returning starter on the defensive line, junior tackle Jeff McMahon.
''He has great feet for a big guy,'' Skinner said. ''He can move. He's going to cause a lot of problems up front.''
At linebacker, senior Joe Hall and junior Marcus Mick will play in the middle and are expected to collect the majority of tackles.
Joining Elliott in the secondary will be a pair of freshman, Marcus Moxley and Brendan Carr, who will be playing cornerback.
''There's good competition there,'' Skinner said. ''You need some athletic corners with some of the spread teams we'll face. These guys have shown they have the ability to play.''
While the Tigers base defense will be very similar to what has been done in the past, the offense will have a new look.
Offensive coordinator Art Miller will be installing a veer option system that Skinner believes will play to the team's strengths and provide opposing defenses with some headaches.
''We haven't run a true option since I've been here,'' Skinner said. ''We've always tried to just run it down their throat. Everyone knew what we were going to do.
''We've had to adjust. This way if they key on one of our offensive backs, we'll make them pay. We're going to make people play assignment football.''
According to Skinner, the success of the new offense will depend upon the Tiger's ability to win the battle of the trenches.
''We're depositing our money in the offensive line,'' he said. ''I'm placing my bet there. That's where our experience is. If we do the job there, it will take some pressure off our young guys.''
Wellsville has three returning starters on the line, including seniors Hall, Tim LaClair and Bob Sullivan.
There will be a number of different players handling the ball in the backfield this season for the Tigers.
At quarterback, there was a heated competition between junior Jake Reed, sophomore Matt Broughton and freshman Jordan Sloane. Wellsville has no returning players who completed a pass last season.
''I hope our quarterback can hand the ball off real well,'' Skinner said. ''We're going to run the football. Whoever plays quarterback will depend on who can take care of the ball and who can make the correct reads.''
Mick will be lining up in the fullback position and should receive the majority of carries.
''He has a work ethic second to none,'' Skinner said. ''He works like a dog. We needed him on the line last year and he didn't hesitate. We need him back here now, and he's ready.
''He's a strong, power runner. He's probably not going to bust one for 70 yards, but he's not afraid to pound out the tough yards.''
The wing back position will be filled by Elliott and senior Tyler Reed. Elliott, the Tiger's top returning offensive player, rushed for 264 yards and one score last year on 69 carries. He also caught nine passes for 81 yards and three touchdowns.
When Wellsville does put the ball in the air, it will be targeted toward senior Sean Hudson, junior Jeremy Drysdale, and freshmen Jordan Loveland, Ryan Bost and Joe Dowling.
The place kicking duties will be handled this season by freshman Cavan Lemasters. In junior high last year, Lemasters kicked a 28-yard field goal against Southern and converted 9 of 15 extra points on the season.
''He's a soccer player,'' Skinner said. ''He kicked for the junior high team last year. He looks real good, and that's something we haven't had in a while.''
As for punting, the Tigers are still evaluating their best options and may fill the position with several players until a permanent solution is found.
Returning kicks will also be done by committee, according to Skinner.
''It could be Elliott, but he's going to be playing both ways,'' he said. ''It could be any number of our young guys. We've got a lot of athletes that we can stick back there.''
Rounding out Skinner's coaching staff will be Miller (offensive coordinator), Bug Thompson (wr/db), David Thompson (wr/db), Roger Bickell (ol/de), Alan Bergert (ol/dl), Justin Gunther (qb) and Rob Long (rb/lb).
''Teams might be overlooking us,'' Skinner said. ''I'd rather have everyone saying that we lost too much to compete. That just feeds me, my team and my staff.''