BYESVILLE - If is a small word, but it holds big meaning for this season's Meadowbrook football team.
Fourth-year coach Jesse Wells is confident the Colts have all the ingredients to cook up the school's first Ohio playoff appearance, if ...
If the team can stay injury free. If the squad can get off to a good start against a tough schedule. If the team's veterans can step up to the plate.
There are plenty of variables at play, but all the pieces appear to be in place as the school begins its 50th campaign.
''We'd love to do something special this year because of that,'' Wells said.
Meadowbrook is seeking to rebound from an injury-littered 3-7 season, one in which which the Colts dropped their final six games.
''Things have gone really well in the preseason. We are leaps and bounds ahead of past years,'' Wells said.
And, with it being his fourth season, the seniors on the squad are well-versed on what Wells is looking for out of the team - on and off the field.
''The kids have a pretty good handle on what I expect and what we're asking them to do,'' he said. ''From the classroom to the weight room, our program is really in a good place.''
There are certainly plenty of positive vibes reverberating across the Guernsey County campus.
''We have 10 starters back on both sides of the ball,'' Wells said. ''We've played a lot of younger kids the past couple of years, so we have a lot of three- and four-year starters.''
That experience will come in handy against a schedule that begins Friday night against perennial playoff participant Shadyside at Eugene Capers Field.
''That will be a huge deal for us,'' Well said. ''We'll know where we're at after that game.
''We came to the realization that if we want to go to the playoffs we need to beat good teams.''
Wells is subscribing the old adage, ''If you want to be the best, play the best.''
While he's shooting for weekly victories, Wells said his players hope to be playing deep into November.
''Their goal is to make the playoffs,'' he said. ''They talk about those expectations every day after practice. We want to put ourselves in a position to get ourselves into the postseason.''
Other newcomers to the Colts schedule include Morgan in Week 4 and Buckeye Trail in Week 5. Union Local was dropped.
Leading the way for the offense will be quarterback Dalton Wiggins (6-foot, 170 pounds). Wiggins, a sophomore, started the last three games a season ago.
''We're looking for big things from him,'' Wells said. ''His knowledge of the game has improved and, obviously, he's gotten bigger and stronger. Overall, he's just a better player.''
Backing him up are junior Joey Carpenter (6-2, 165) and freshman Konnor Roberts (5-8, 155).
Returning to carry the ball are tailback Andrew Stine (5-8, 155), a sophomore, and fullback Clay Lapp (5-9, 205), a three-year senior letterwinner.
Also figuring to get plenty of carries are juniors Richard Ramage (5-9, 175), Dylan Wood (5-7, 150), sophomores Bailey Jenkins (5-9, 160), TJ Love (5-9, 165) and Kobe Richardson (5-4, 135), and freshmen Trevor Stevens (5-10, 160), Austin Wolverton (5-4, 140), Dylan Kramer (5-2, 140).
The offensive line is loaded with the return of both tackles and both guards.
Back at left tackle is junior Darin Neff (6-4, 320), while senior Tim Gibbs (6-3, 300) returns at right tackle.
Junior Lane Colvin (6-3, 320) is back at left guard, while senior Justice May (6-1, 250) returns at right guard.
Sophomore Josh Sils (6-4, 280), who transferred in from Wells' alma mater, Shenandoah, will take over at center.
Other candidates along the line include seniors Brandon Palmer (5-10, 280) and Justin Ayers (6-2, 205), sophomores Phillip Yannacey (5-10, 190), Cole Duke (6-0, 230), Matt Stemmer (5-9, 200), Cole Neuhart (5-11, 250), Trey West (5-11, 220), and freshmen Gage Greathouse (6-1, 220), Jacob Stoney (5-3, 165), Ethan Cleewell (5-7, 140), Austin Warford (5-5, 170), Hunter Klum (6-0, 260), Chris Hupp (5-5, 175) and Garry Tidwell (5-8, 225).
Senior, and three-time letterwinner, Cody Johnston (6-1, 170) returns at receiver. Others in the mix include senior AJ Broom (6-3, 175), juniors Austin Holliday (6-1, 160) and Kade Miles (5-10, 155), sophomores Nathan Stoney (5-9, 130), Dalton Poland (5-8, 145), Ethan Gadd (5-10, 140) and Dakota Sayre (6-0, 130), and freshmen Ben Davis (5-7, 150), Tyreese Jones (5-10, 160), Dalton Loy (5-5, 105) and Nicholas Masters (5-11, 130).
Battling at tight end are seniors Caleb Fehrman (5-10, 165), Grant Dunham (6-0, 190) and Chrisley, juniors Seth Waers (5-11, 150), Jacob Quinn (6-3, 205), sophomores Cole Larrick (5-9, 140) and Jacob Messinger (6-3, 190) and freshmen Dalton Delancey (6-1, 145) and Mike Zurress (5-8, 140).
Ayers and Dunham return along the defensive front. May, Gibbs, Colvin, Neff, Duke and Palmer will also be in the rotation, along with most of the candidates in the mix along with Larrick, Chrisley, Yannacey, Greathouse, Stemmer, Warford, Klum, Sils, Tidwell, Neuhart, West, Waers and Messinger.
Lapp and Fehrman are four-year starters at linebacker.
Ramage, Love, Wolverton, Kramer, Stevens, Stoney, Cleewell, Hupp and Burress are also candidates there.
Johnston returns to one corner spot, while Davis and Broom are battling at the other.
At safety are Stine, Wood, Quinn, Poland, Holliday and Jenkins. Also in the mix are Roberts, Carpenter, Stoney, Gadd, Loy, Jones, Miles, Sayre and Dunham.
''We've kind of taken some lumps the past few years,'' Wells said. ''We felt last year we could have broken the string, but the injuries took their toll.
''We're looking to stay healthy and finish what we came to do.''
Wells is assisted by Justin Wells, Jason May, Bryan Conlon, Donnie Kerns, Matt Weddle, Brian Stoney, Jason Gander and Kyle Winland.
Justin Ayers, AJ Broom, Chase Chrisley, Grant Dunham, Tim Gibbs, Cody Johnston, Clay Lapp, Justice May, Brandon Palmer.
Joey Carpenter, Lance Colvin, Austin Holliday, Kade Miles, Darin Neff, Jacob Quinn, Richard Ramage, Seth Waers, Dylan Wood.
Cole Duke, Ethan Gadd, Bailey Jenkins, Cole Larrick, TJ Love, Jacob Messinger, Cole Neuhart, Dalton Poland, Kobe Richardson, Dakota Sayre, Josh Sils, Matt Stemmer, Andrew Stine, Nathan Stoney, Trey West, Dalton Wiggins, Phillip Yannacey.
Ethan Cleewell, Ben Davis, Dalton Delancey, Gage Greathouse, Chris Hupp, Tyreese Jones, Hunter Klum, Dylan Kramer, Dalton Loy, Nicholas Masters, Konnor Roberts, Trevor Stevens, Jacob Stoney, Garry Tidwell, Austin Warford, Andrew Wolverton, Mike Zurress.