FRANKLIN FURNACE — Last fall, Green’s football program played in its first state playoff game since 1990, ending a 28-year drought.
The Bobcats finished the year 8-3, one season after going 1-9. They ran the ball down their opponents’ throats at will, racking up 3,015 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground in the regular season. And they outscored opposing teams by a margin of 345-174.
So … how in the world can Green top those numbers this fall?
Here are five things you need to know about the Bobcats before you see them live:
- As mentioned, the Bobcats’ biggest strength last season was their ability to run the football. Three separate players racked up 500-plus rushing yards in Alec Smith (1,024), Lonnie Smith (801) and Mackie Kingery (568). That trio combined for 36 scores. Kingery has since graduated but both Smith’s will return to the Bobcats’ backfield, giving Green two solid options to call upon. They’ll also be running behind an experienced offensive line, meaning you can expect the Bobcats to play ground and pound once again.
- Joining the Smith’s in the backfield will be returning quarterback Trevor Darnell, a senior quarterback who now knows what it takes to lead a team on a playoff run. As a junior, Darnell rushed for 275 yards and three scores while completing 26-of-56 pass attempts for 480 yards and two scores. Darnell’s passing numbers should go up this season with another year of experience under his belt. The Bobcats averaged just 52 passing yards per game last season. If they air it out more, it opens up holes for their running backs to burst through, meaning they become even more dangerous than they already are.
- While the Bobcats’ offense was certainly dynamic, their defense was underrated. Lonnie Smith led that charge with 81 tackles, 10 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss. If you take away the 42-8 playoff loss against Harvest Prep, Green allowed just 132 points all season long. The Bobcats also suffered a 44-12 loss to Oak Hill, who is no longer in the SOC I after moving to the SOC II. This season, Green should be looked at as the favorite to win a conference title and its defense will be a central reason why.
- This year’s schedule will feature some new matchups. While Cincinnati Dohn Community is still on the Bobcats’ schedule and teams to beat list, they’ll also play Cincinnati College Prep, Fairview and Federal Hocking this coming fall. Those schools replace Hannan (WV), West Union and Oak Hill. Combined, alongside Dohn Community, the Bobcats’ non-conference opponents had an overall record of 9-22. However, Fairview was 9-4 alone after ending the year with a 26-21 loss in Week 12 to Seneca East. While there aren’t any “easy” wins on the gridiron, Green’s schedule is favorable.
- If the Bobcats can use that schedule to their advantage and clinch yet another playoff berth, it would mark the school’s fourth such feat in history. In 1989 and 1990, the Bobcats made back-to-back postseason appearances. Last year’s loss puts the program’s overall playoff record at 2-3. If you’re wondering, Green will be back in Division VII, Region 27, one where six new programs moved into including Bridgeport, Beaver Eastern, Millersport, Shadyside, Shenandoah and Newark Catholic.