GEORGETOWN — Experience is the first thing that’s noticeable about the Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman football team.
Sixteen of the Buffaloes’ 32 varsity prospects are lettermen.
That’s not the only place there’s experience.
Head coach Josh Cavanaugh has more than a two-day head start this year.
“We’re so far from where we were a year ago,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re not so far ahead of others (schools), but I know everyone’s name and where they should be playing.
“We’re able to coach the little things. Last year, we had to coach the big things. This year, we can coach the details.”
Seven starters return on each side of the ball.
“Our best skill kids are all returnees,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re happy that all of our major contributors are back.”
Last year’s top three rushers on a 4-5 team are back. The current seniors are Derrick McCormick (968 yards rushing), Ryan Dieu (279 yards rushing) and Korie Vire (178 yards rushing).
Dieu threw for 834 yards last fall and needs 886 to pass Dwight George (now an assistant coach) for second place on the school’s career passing charts.
Last year’s top three receivers also return: senior Matthew Hay (335 receiving yards), Vire (264 receiving yards) and junior Ryan Berry (111 receiving yards).
How much action the pass-catchers receive remains to be determined. With depth at the ballcarrying positions, Cavanaugh estimates, “we’ll throw eight to 10 times a game. I think we can throw, but we don’t have to.”
Looking at the candidates to join Dieu in the backfield, Cavanaugh said, “I wouldn’t feel bad starting any of six running backs.”
McCormick and Vire are contending at tailback as are sophomore Tyson Reed and sophomore Dylan Bina, a transfer from Danville.
Seniors Tanner Kelley and Cody Pratt — who rushed for 88 yards last year at Westville and caught 11 passes — are among the fullback prospects.
Among the others who’ve shown the ability to catch the ball are senior George Foehrer — a candidate to be valedictorian — who Cavanaugh noted is “one of the faster kids in the conference” and junior Kyle Coburn, a nice target at 6-foot-4.
Three returning starters will line up side-by-side on the offensive line: tackle James Dailey, guard Brock Herrin and center Bryant Burris.
Junior guard Gage Jurumbo and junior tackle Evan Olson are expected to man the left side of the offensive line.
What’s noteworthy is that the way the defensive line is shaping up, Cavanaugh said, “no one is playing both ways.”
Defensively, juniors Aaron Keith, Zyrone Petty and Derrick Shuman will join senior Justin Richards — who didn’t play last year — up front. The 280-pound Petty is a transfer from Danville.
There’s a plethora of players at linebacker. The coach will pick between — or rotate — Herrin, Kelley and Pratt at middle linebacker.
The outside positions could feature Bina, Eric Harris, Andy Nicholson or Vire. Harris is a senior who hasn’t played in three years. Nicholson is a sophomore.
Cavanaugh is joined by two returning assistant coaches: Dwight George and Jim Humrichous. Other staff members include former head coaches Mick Roberts (Casey-Westfield) and Jay Willaman (Schlarman). Other coaches are Brad Bevis, Ryan Goodwin and Steve Rutter.
In addition to the 32 varsity members, the Buffaloes have a 28-member freshmen team.
G-RF/C opens the varsity season on Aug. 26 at home against Arthur-Lovington.
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