By Wade Linville –
The fall football season is just around the corner, and for the second straight year the Southern Buckeye Youth Football League will field a high school varsity team.
Last year marked the first season of high school football for the Southern Buckeye Warriors, making the jump from junior high to varsity.
According to the high school SB Warriors’ head coach Chris Tomlin, numbers in the varsity program are good this season with 25 players so far, but the SBYFL junior high team is in need of additional players.
“We’re looking at about 25 players for the high school team, and I think that’s a good number,” said Tomlin. “We could use some junior high players. We need seventh and eighth graders desperately.”
The SBYFL started five seasons ago, a program based in Eastern Brown County but not affiliated with the Eastern Brown School District. Such teams are often referred to as “club teams” that are not sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Such football programs have been popping up in the area in recent years, including programs from North Adams, West Union, and Peebles in Adams County.
The SB Warriors will open their high school campaign against the newly formed high school team of the Peebles area.
The SB Warriors will continue their preseason with a seven-on-seven scrimmage at Manchester on Friday, July 28.
“We’re all excited – the parents, coaches, and players,” Tomlin said of the upcoming season.
For those involved with the SBYFL, there is much to be excited about, including improvements at Koehler Field and new uniforms for PeeWee and junior high teams.
According to Tomlin, field improvements new for the upcoming season include official goal posts (taking the place of goal posts made of PVC piping), new lights, and a new scoreboard.
Tomlin is also excited some key returners to this year’s high school team, losing only six senior players from last year’s team to graduation.
Among the key players on the return is sophomore running back Dylan Lainhart who started at running back as a freshman last season.
“He’s looking really good and we expect a lot out of him,” Tomlin said of Lainhart.
Also on the return for the SB Warriors to aid the varsity team in their 2017 gridiron campaign are junior linebacker Zach Hanson and sophomore linebacker/right guard Christian Manning.
Taking over as quarterback this season is senior Alex Bateman.
The SB Warriors also return some skilled wide receivers in junior Finn Tomlin and senior Mason Gardner.
Those are two young men who are standing out in the preseason,” Chris Tomlin said of Gardner and Finn Tomlin. “They are catching the ball 10 times better than they were last season.”
The SB Warriors showed consistent improvement throughout the 2016 season, so expect the more experienced varsity squad to be ready for action when the official season opener rolls around at the end of August.