POINT PLEASANT BIG BLACKS
Head Coach: Dave Darst (6th season).
2011 Record: (13-1 Overall; 7-0 Cardinal; 3-1 Playoffs).
Players Lost to Graduation (Notables): 17 (QB Eric Roberts, OL-DL Trey Livingston, WR-DB Brandon Toler, RB-DB Anthony Darst).
Roster Breakdown: 73 (17 Srs, 14 Jrs, 23 Sophs, 19 Frosh).
Varsity returnees: 35.
Strengths: The Big Blacks showed a ton of offensive and defensive capabilities last fall en route to the program’s first-ever state final. With roughly half of the team coming back for 2012, PPHS will have plenty of experience to fall back on as they replace 17 losses to graduation. Three of Point’s top five rushers are back from a season ago, as seniors Tylun Campbell and Marquez Griffin join junior Teran Barnitz in another talent-filled backfield. Both lines lost key pieces to graduation, but the Big Blacks will still be more than capable up front — particularly on the defensive side with returning seniors Conner Templeton and Andrew Williamson.
Weaknesses: The loss of all-state quarterback Eric Roberts and all-state tackle Trey Livingston are easily noticed, but the loss of Brandon Toler, Layne Thompson and Jason Stouffer as wideouts leave the offense looking for a lot of new playmakers on the perimeter. The Big Blacks will play only four regular season games at home this fall, including the opener and two of the final three contests. PPHS also hosts Brooke in the final week of September.
Notes: The Big Blacks have been to four consecutive Class AA playoffs in the previous five years under Dave Darst, and the goal will be to add a fifth straight postseason as Point makes the jump to Class AAA this fall. PPHS has won 11 consecutive regular season contests and is also 14-1 at home in regular season matchups since opening OVB Track and Field in the fall of 2009. PPHS has also won 13 straight regular season home games, with the lone blemish coming to Wayne (22-10) on October 2, 2009.
WAHAMA WHITE FALCONS
Head Coach: Ed Cromley (18th season).
2011 Record: (12-1 Overall; 8-0 TVC Hocking; 2-1 Playoffs).
Players Lost to Graduation (Notables): 22 (RB-DB Isaac Lee, OT-DT Jamin Branch, RB-LB Anthony Grimm).
Roster Breakdown: 45 (7 Srs, 13 Jrs, 9 Sophs, 16 Frosh).
Varsity returnees: 19.
Strengths: Junior QB Trenton Gibbs will be under center for the third consecutive season, giving the White Falcons a capable passing attack to go with a stable of returning skilled-players like running backs Crandale Neal, Kane Roush and Zach Wamsley. The 19 returnees come back to various positions on both sides of the ball, which will make for a nice blend of youth and experience throughout the squad.
Weaknesses: Any time a Class A program loses 22 seniors, it leaves some holes to fill. Lee and Grimm were two of the main offensive leaders statistically, and Branch was an all-state defensive lineman. Replacing that kind of experience may take some time. More than half of the Wahama roster comes from the bottom two grades, making this White Falcon team relatively young.
Notes: Wahama is unbeaten in its last 20 regular season games, which also includes a pair of 8-0 campaigns in the TVC Hocking since joining the league in the fall of 2010. The White Falcons — who have reached the state semifinals in each of the last two years — have a tough start to the 2012 campaign with opening road games at Fayetteville and Trimble. WHS also plays three of its final five games at Bachtel Stadium this fall.
Head Coach: Mike Wallace (1st season).
2011 Record: (3-7 Overall).
Players Lost to Graduation (Notables): 8 (RB-LB Jacob Taylor, OL-DL James Brumfield).
Roster Breakdown: 24 (5 Srs, 4 Jrs, 9 Sophs, 6 Frosh).
Varsity returnees: 11.
Strengths: Familiarity will be important for the new coching staff, figuring Mike Wallace has been either the head coach or an assistant with the program for the last decade. Roughly half of the Wildcats have varsity experience, which will be important in replacing eight losses to graduation. A majority of those returnees are also spread throughout the positions, allowing a blend of experience and youth at all spots.
Weaknesses: Roughly three-fifths of Hannan’s roster comes from the bottom two grades, making these Wildcats quite young. HHS has all of its home games in September and November. The Wildcats also play road games throughout the months of August and October. Defensively, Hannan must improve on its 32 points allowed per game average last fall.
Notes: The Wildcats are coming off a 3-7 campaign, their most successful season since the turn of the millennium and a 5-5 finish in 1998. HHS averaged 15.6 points per game offensively a year ago, including a season-high 68-48 win over Gilmer County in the 2011 finale. Hannan has made a late addition to its schedule, as the Wildcats will host Tug Valley on September 28.