Lukas Moore --
On the heat of the Boston Field turf the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes were all smiles and all excitement. Head coach Rusty Richards even ran QB for the scout team, and tossed a touchdown on the first-team defense. Richards says he still has dreams at night about leading a game-winning drive, but he always wakes up before the dream can finish. Jokes, laughter, and fun stories were intermixed with drills and intensity.
The most experienced team in the TVC-Ohio is excited about the season, and they should be. They have the best coach in the conference, although newcomers like Athens' Nathan White might challenge that, they have the most talented player in the TVC-Ohio in Keegan Wilburn, and are returning more starters than every team in the conference.
What did we already know?
Well with the Buckeyes, we know a lot. 18 of 22 starters returning gives you real confidence in who is starting and what the Buckeyes have to rely on. We know Keegan Wilburn has been lighting up camps all summer, and that Richards is motivated for a redemption season.
We also knew that the numbers have been there all camp for the Buckeyes, and their offseason conditioning operated miles better than what it did a summer ago.
What did we learn?
The biggest thing I learned is that the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes can't wait to play the Trimble Tomcats week one. After getting embarrassed on their home field a year ago the Buckeyes want to spoil the opener, and the new lights, at Glouster Memorial Stadium on the first Saturday of the season. The Buckeyes have said in the past they focus all offseason on week one, but this year seems more intense than the past.
Keegan Wilburn went as far to say "It's personal," when referencing the rivalry with the Tomcats. The Buckeyes know a week one upset of Trimble would be an incredible start to the season. It'd give them confidence for the rest of the year and, more importantly, give them a boatload of playoff points. This rivalry has added heat because both squads have essentially the same teams from a year ago, week one can't come soon enough.
We also learned that the Buckeyes got bigger, literally, they grew. Nelsonville-York just looks older as a unit up front; this makes sense because they played a young line a year ago. From the eye-test, the Buckeyes look like a team that can compete in the trenches.
What we still don't know
Quarterback Mikey Seel is the most important piece to the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes success in 2019. Seel played serviceable football in the TVC-Ohio but struggled mightily in the non-conference. He's a natural athlete and has certainly added some weight in the offseason, but he will need to improve at all aspects of quarterbacking. All signs indicate Seel has dedicated the summer to improving at those aspects. A Rusty Richards offense needs a good trigger man to reach its full potential, and if Seel takes that step it will be hard to stop the Buckeyes.