BLACKSVILLE - In his 19th season as coach at Clay-Battelle, Ryan Wilson has seen his ups and downs with the program.
While there are significant losses from 2012's 10-2 squad that advanced to the second round of the playoffs, there are plenty of reasons for Wilson to be excited and possibly looking ahead to Clay-Battelle's eighth playoff appearance in 10 years.
"You have to go out and prove yourself every week, but this team really does have the potential to be a good one," Wilson said. "But you also have to remember that these are still high school kids and you really just don't know how they are going to go onto the field and react at times."
Of course one of the biggest reasons for optimism entering the campaign is the return of three-year starting quarterback Tristan Haught (6-foot-2, 170 pounds), who has already thrown for more than 3,000 yards in his career.
"Tristan Haught is a kid that knows our system very well and has great ability and athleticism," Wilson said. "He really makes things look simple out on the field, and he is even bigger and stronger heading into his final season."
Junior Jacoby Steele (6-0, 215) was the lead running back last season until getting hurt midway through and returns to join senior Trenten Dille (5-9, 165), who took over for him in the second half of the season. Junior Kurt Latocha returns at receiver, while junior Tanner Bragg (5-10, 170) will be at flanker and sophomore Jarrett Hockenberry (6-4, 200), a Morgantown High transfer, will be the split end and backup quarterback.
Sophomore Devin Webber is also a QB option.
Junior Braden Barr (5-10, 180) is at tight end with seniors Ben Shumiloff (5-11, 200) back and Hunter Six (6-0, 295) returning on the offensive line. Senior Logan Hamilton (6-4, 200) and sophomore Tanner Six (6-0, 295) will also start on the line while the other spot will go to either senior Alex Gum (5-11, 195) or juniors Brandon Swaniger (5-10, 220) or Samson Cropper (5-11, 190).
Providing depth at running back are junior John Forquer (5-8, 155) and sophomore Zack Bane (5-7, 155). Extra receivers include senior Jake Bell (5-8, 150), juniors Jacob Hadley (5-9, 160), Robbie White (5-11, 160), Brydin Watson (5-9, 130) and Brody Watson (5-9, 125), and sophomores Hunter Gum (5-5, 130), Tyler Wychoff (6-0, 150) and freshmen Chris Wolfe (5-6, 130), Tyler Burnette (5-7, 125) and Tim Hall (5-8, 145).
Tight end depth comes from sophomore Tristan Shriver (5-8, 160).
There are plenty of up-and-comers on the line with seniors Blaze Tate (5-9, 175), Doug Eddy (5-11, 275) Levi Van Scyoc (6-2, 205) and Dustin Varner (6-5, 330), along with juniors Ethan Carrico (5-10, 190) and Wyatt Tennant (6-3, 285); sophomores Hammer Van Scyoc (5-10, 160), Devin Lancaster (5-10, 230), Colby Shriver (5-11, 190), Cameron Tennant (5-9, 195) and Matt Tolley (5-10, 155) and freshmen Logan Sickles (5-8, 280), Nicholas Haas (5-9, 215) and Logan Cottrell (5-9, 280).
"We have some new kids on the line, but the kids are going to step in and be fine because they have been in the system," Wilson added. "It's just their turn now, and they have done a nice job so far. We are also bigger and faster at the running back position and I am very excited about the Hockenberry kid who is just an athlete and can play about anywhere.
"Our receiving corps also has some nice size and there is just a lot of confidence overall offensively."
A total of six returning starters dot the defense with Haught leading the way at free safety. Also back are Dille and Bragg at linebacker, Steele and Hamilton at defensive end with Hunter Six at defensive tackle. The remainder of the defense will be made up of Hockenberry and Shumiloff at linebacker, Varner at tackle and Barr and Latocha at the corners.
The remaining defensive backfield has Bell, Hadley, Hunter Gum, Brydin Watson, Brody Watson, Waychoff, Wolfe, Burnette and Hall. Linebackers are Bane, Forquer, Shriver, Alex Gum, Swaniger, White, Trolley, Webber and Shriver. Linemen include Cropper, Eddy, Carrico, Levi Van Scyoc, Hammer Van Scyoc, Tanner Six, Lancaster, Steele, Sickles, Haas and Cottrell.
Wilson also mentioned that the Cee-Bees' schedule will be as competitive as ever and includes Class A state runner-up Madonna, Bishop Donahue, Cameron and Notre Dame.
"The playoffs are always a goal," Wilson said. "There are smaller ones that we hope to fulfill, but then there are bigger ones we are looking at as well. Things like conference championships and playoffs are always a biggie, and making strides toward playing in Wheeling.
"From what I have seen so far these kids are very focused, are meeting all the challenges we put in front of them and listen very well. There are willing to do the little things that lead to the big things."
Assistant coaches include Eric Ammons, Doug Steele, Kent Saul and Justin Allar.
Jake Bell, Trenten Dille, Doug Eddy, Alex Gum, Logan Hamilton, Tristan Haught, Ben Shumiloff, Hunter Six, Blaze Tate, Levi Van Scyoc, Dustin Varner.
Braden Barr, Tanner Bragg, Ethan Carrico, Samson Cropper, John Forquer, Jacob Hadley, Kurt Latocha, Jacoby Steele, Brandon Swaniger, Wyatt Tennant, Brody Watson, Brydin Watson, Robbie White.
Zack Bane, Jarrett Hockenberry, Hunter Gum, Devin Lancaster, Colby Shriver, Tristan Shriver, Cameron Tennant, Matt Tolley, Hammer Van Scyoc, Tanner Six, Tyler Waychoff, Devin Webber.
Tyler Vurnette, Logan Cottrell, Nicholas Haas, Tim Hall, Logan Sickles, Elijah Steele, Chris Wolfe.