BYESVILLE - In his third year at the helm of the Meadowbrook program, Jesse Wells is predicting that success has arrived along with new turf on Eugene Capers Field.
''I believe we will have our first winning season in a while,'' Wells (4-16) said after a disappointing 3-7 finish in 2011.
Wells stated that the Colts went 6-4 in 2005 and since then their best finish was equal to their three victories last season.
"We need to get some confidence. We need to believe in what we are doing," he said. "That's why we feel these first couple of games are important for us."
The Colts lost four starters from last season: fullbacks Austin Robinette and Kyle Huggins along with tight ends Courtland Johnson and Heath Shriver.
The good news is that the Colts have seven seniors on the roster and return eight starters on both sides of the football. With 12 lettermen back, Wells will have varsity experience at key positions.
Second team All-District Division IV selection Clay Lapp will be a key to success returning at tailback. Coach Wells has big expectations for his 5-foot-9, 200-pound junior.
"After this season everyone will know who he is," Wells predicted.
Lapp will be sharing the backfield with classmate Chase Chrisley, (6-0, 225). The pair will be taking handoffs from starting quarterback Trey Pugh. The 6-0, 150 pound senior will return as the signal caller for the offense which Wells says will display a variety of looks from multiple formations.
Catching passes from Pugh will be a veteran stable of speedy and athletic wideouts. Senior Christian Kirkman (6-1, 165), junior Cody Johnston (6-1, 160), and the addition of sophomore Dylan Wood (5-7, 145) will add dimension to the Colts' offensive package.
Meadowbrook will again utilize a 4-2-5 defensive scheme. Anchoring the defensive backfield will be junior Caleb Fehrman. The 5-10, 165-pound DB will be joined by all of the two-way offensive skill players with Chrisley filling a linebacker slot on the other side of the football.
Wells is a staunch believer that line play is pivotal to any successful season.
The line will feature three experienced players for the Colts. Senior Tony Blair (6-1, 250), with juniors Justin Ayers (6-2, 215) and Justice May (5-11, 240), will provide the protection for the quarterback and lead the charge through the opponent's line.
''We need to keep working on shoring up all of our offensive and defensive blocking assignments and really focus on stopping the run with our defensive line,'' Wells said. ''I have said it before, but if we can stop the run, we are going to be successful.
"We have some tough road games this season at Claymont and Cambridge, so I think we need to establish ourselves at home early and then build on that success."
Meadowbrook will also play host to Coshocton in Week 8.
The Colts have added Warren to the schedule this season in Week 4. The Warriors from Vincent in Washington County are a Division II team and were 5-5 last year.
''I think they are a good fit for our schedule,'' Wells said of the change, which replaces the Cleveland Knights, a club that did not count in OHSAA rankings.
''I think the key to the season is Week 1, hosting Union Local on our new turf,'' Wells said.
The Colts late drive last season earned them a 32-26 truimph against the Jets, so the inaugural game on the new surface is sure to be one game that Union Local has had highlighted for quite some time.
Adding emphasis is that the meeting will be the last between the two schools as Union Local has picked up Monroe Central.