OLD WASHINGTON - To say Buckeye Trail has had some lean years recently would be a correct statement.
Since the Warriors compiled a memorable 10-0 campaign in 2007 before dropping their first-round Division V playoff game, the they have only managed three victories in the past four seasons.
First-year coach Dale Broomhall admits he likes challenge, which is good because he's in for one.
''I contemplated retirement last year, but this is my 36th year at Buckeye Trail and I've done just about everything else,'' he said. ''I've been a baseball coach, a football assistant for 17-18 years, an athletic director and a volleyball coach.
''I've always been a Warrior. I saw this as a challenge. I like the group of kids we have. They needed a coach and I was looking for a challenge.''
In addition to the lack of recent winning, Broomhall and his staff have to deal with the recently instituted pay-to-play issue in the school district.
''Yes, our numbers have been affected to some degree by the $300 per player fee,'' he quickly noted. ''But there are some things that we can control, and there are some things that we can't control. We have lost some players due to the money factor. We've had some fundraisers, but we need to move along and control the things we can control.''
Offensively, Buckeye Trail will run out of a variety of formations, but will be a basic I-set squad.
''Most of our sets will be run out of the I, but we will run some type of spread as well,'' Broomhall explained. ''We're going to try and run the ball, run the clock, but at the same time we feel we've got enough skilled athletes that we can put the ball in the air as well.''
The Warriors don't have a lot of experience back at quarterback, but Broomhall has liked what he has seen in senior Jeffrey Simmons (6-foot-2, 205 pounds).
''Jeff probably only threw the ball 4-to-5 times last season, but he is coming around,'' the head coach said.
Also in the mix are juniors Morgan Dougherty (6-0, 170) and freshman Levi Gadd (5-6, 140).
The backfield is where most of the experience returns as Tyler Nealey (5-9, 200) and Seth Doudna (6-1, 200) will be earning their fourth varsity letters. Nealey is listed as the starting tailback, with Doudna as the fullback.
Other tailbacks include juniors Lane Starr (6-0, 170) and Jonathon Morton (6-0, 170), along with sophomore Tanner Keith (6-1, 195). The fullbacks are juniors Codey Kimble (5-8, 190), Travis Pontius (5-9, 190), sophomore Brady Neuhart (5-10, 155) and freshman Tristen King (5-10, 200).
The receiver corps is where Broomhall says his team's strengths are.
''We've got some athletic kids out there that can catch the ball, but they really didn't get a chance last season,'' he said.
Senior C.J. Beaver (5-9, 145) is listed as the starter at split end, with classmate Brett Shipman (6-0, 150) at the Z. The tight end is listed as junior Spencer Warden (6-2, 185).
Backups at split end are juniors Bobby Sells (5-11, 180) and Tyler Starr (5-9, 160); sophomore Ben Garcia (5-6, 140) and freshman Isiah Tucker (5-11, 190). Reserve Z receivers include Dougherty and junior Cody Pletcher (5-8, 145). The other tight end is junior RJ Douglass (5-9, 165).
The offensive and defensive lines is where Broomhall is concerned.
''We only have eight kids in the trenches,'' he said. ''So we're short there, but we've got some extra running backs that could be moved to the line where they have a little experience."
Sophomore Dalton Choate (6-2, 235) is penciled in as the starting center. He will be flanked by senior Ian Wildes (5-10, 250) and junior Cory Cutlip (6-1, 265) at the guards. The tackles will be senior Seth McPeek (5-9, 185) and sophomore Dillon Pointer (6-1, 265). McPeek is another three-year veteran.
The remaining linemen are sophomores AJ Robertson (5-8, 200) and Lydia Johnson (5-8, 190); and freshman Tyler Faulk (5-8, 200).
''We've got some size, but we don't have any depth,'' Broomhall said. ''Injuries, especially along the line, could be devastating.''
Defensively, the Warriors will employ a 5-2 alignment with Pontius getting the nod at middle guard. He is backed up by Choate and Faulk.
The down tackles will be Cutlip and Wildes, with McPeek, Johnson and Pointer also in the mix. The ends are Warden and Doudna as the starters. The backups are Simmons, Morton, Douglass and Neuhart.
Starting at linebacker will be Nealey and King. Robertson, Lane Starr and Keith are the backups.
In the secondary, Shipman and Beaver will start at cornerback, with Dougherty the free safety and Kimble as the strong safety. Backups include Sells, Garcia, Gadd, Tyler Starr, Pletcher and Tucker.
Broomhall said Dougherty is the set for the placekicking and kicking off duties, while Sells or Wildes will do the punting. The return specialists are Beaver, Shipman, Dougherty and both Starrs.
As far as the schedule goes, the Warriors will have a rough go of it early on as a Ridgewood visits the Baker Activity Complex in Friday's opener.
Buckeye Trail has a short week after the opener as a jaunt to Caldwell is set for Thursday, Sept. 6.
Broomhall is assisted by Randy Thompson, Steve Mercer, Donnie Kerns, Darin Wilson, Mike Neuhart, Mark Neuhart and Kurtis Spratt.