LUCASVILLE — The start to the 2020 OHSAA football season has been anything less than conventional.
The Valley Indians’ football program last made the OHSAA state playoffs during the 2015 season after an 8-1 record clinched them the number-two seed in Division VI, Region 21.
Fast forward five years, and an OHSAA ruling stating each team in the state of Ohio is eligible to compete in the postseason if they elect to, and you have an Indians’ team led by a six-man senior class poised to make strides in the win column.
At the top of the list of Valley seniors hoping to prove themselves is quarterback Andrew Andronis, who was sidelined for the second half of last season after suffering a season-ending injury versus Northwest in week five.
It’s no secret that when healthy, Andronis can easily be the best playmaker on the field — between both teams.
That’s why if Valley is able to suit up and compete alongside its fellow Southern Ohio Conference and southern Ohio programs, it would mean a great deal to Andronis and his teammates.
“After missing half the season last year, I have a lot left to prove,” Andronis said. “Lot of stuff coming in, but I’m ready to play.”
Fellow Indian Nick Bowles, a six-foot 205-pound lineman, is taking his senior leadership role seriously by helping set an example for his Valley underclassmen teammates — both in practice and in the locker-room.
“We’re just there to help them,” Bowles said. “If they need help with a play we’re there to tell them, or if they mess up tell them that it’s OK.”
Following the OHSAA Board of Directors’ decision to shorten the length of the 2020 football season from 10 games to six, Andronis and Bowles said they’re still preparing for the season — as if they’re going to play under the lights in Lucasville.
Starting off the Indians’ six-game regular-season schedule will be the same opponent that Andronis suffered his injury against — Northwest.
From there, Valley will play Oak Hill, Waverly, West, Wheelersburg and Minford to round out its SOC II slate.
“It’s been good. We’re playing as if we’re going to have a season,” Andronis said. “There’s no thinking that we’re not; we’re going full-go.”
“We’re just taking it how we did last year,” Bowles said. “Trying to have that mentality that we are going to have a season.”
When both seniors were asked of the main strengths of this year’s Indians roster, both quickly said it’s speed.
With a roster size of 33 and consisting of 18 underclassmen, Valley’s speed will in fact be oh so important in bettering its .500 record from a season ago.
“Definitely our speed,” Andronis said. “What we have now, what we have in the grade levels coming up, definitely have a lot of speed.”
“Our speed’s going to our strength this year,” Bowles said. “We have a little more speed than we did last year, our guys are a little quicker.”
Andronis, Bowles and the entire Indians’ senior class are hopeful that football will be played at the high school level this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.
If in fact it is played, it won’t be all that hard to appreciate what it would mean to step onto the field for their final games of their high school careers.
“It’d be awesome. Whenever you’re little, it’s something you always dream about being able to play under those lights,” Andronis said. “It’s something that’s amazing.”
“It’d mean everything because when you’re a kid, you think about Friday nights during your senior year — it’s what you play for.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved