The Paint Valley Bearcats football team is looking to have a little history in what is the 20th season under Pete Hollon as their head coach. For the first time in the program's existence, the Bearcats are looking to qualify for the state playoffs for a third consecutive season.

Paint Valley is coming off a season where they finished 8-4, winning one game in the playoffs vs. Central Catholic, 38-7, but losing the following week to Shadyside, 41-15.

The '14 season was a success for the Bearcats with not only winning in the playoffs, but they were also co-champions of the Scioto Valley Conference (6-1, shared with Zane Trace) for the second straight season (they were tri-champions in '13). They continued to take the next step in their progression on the football field, leading us to where PV is this season … ready to cap off that success with one final push to the playoffs.

With this being Hollon's 20th season as the head coach, his record speaks for itself at 118-77 with a 5-4 playoff mark as well. His team this season returns 21 lettermen, including nine offensive starters and seven starters on defense.

"We have good team strength and speed," Hollon said. "Having 21 lettermen return is a great strength to have, and we also have much better size along the lines – both offensively and defensively.

"Our depth is solid because we have a lot of nonstarters who played considerable minutes last season."

Returning on offense are seniors Anthony McFadden (QB), Caleb Johnson (FB), Teagan McFadden (TB), Tony Hatfield (WR) and junior Payton Adkins (TE). The offensive linemen include: junior Jacob Ott (RG), junior Austin Baker (C), senior Josh Krech (LG) and senior Dalton Waugh (LT).

The lone o-line spot that will need replaced will be the right tackle spot, and the Bearcats are looking to fill a receiver spot.

Johnson also returns as the punter, and Ott is back as the PV kicker this season.

"Our special teams play must continue to be solid," Hollon said. "We return all of our specialty players, so we are looking forward to good things from them again."

The defense will see Anthony McFadden return as the free safety, along with Hatfield as one of the two cornerbacks. Teagan McFadden returns as the strong safety, and Johnson is back at linebacker. Also returning the the defensive line are junior Drake Stanforth (NG), Krech (DT) and Waugh (DE).

Teagan McFadden was third-team All-Ohio last season in Division VII, while Anthony McFadden was special mention. Anthony passed for over 1,300 yards last season, while Teagan rushed for 1,117 yards on 111 carries in '14.

With there being empty spots on both sides of the ball, Hollon listed some of the players the team will look to as his team will add to an already stout lineup. On offense, new additions include: sophomore Travis Burton (LT), junior Elijah Krech (RT), senior Gavin Mendenhall (WR), junior Jeremy Herald (WR), junior Jonathan Huddleston (WR), junior Dylan Hannah and freshman Caden Grubb.

Defensively, some of the new additions for PV include: sophomore Buster Trent (LB), junior Skyler Knisley (LB), junior Austen Blevins (CB), freshman Caden Grubb (DB), sophomore Will Gillingham (DE), Gage Raypole (DE) and sophomore Tygr Tesi (LB).

 

Even with all of their strengths, Coach Hollon said his team does have some weaknesses they need to work on as well.

"A lot will come down to how well we handle adversity," Hollon said. "We must develop a tougher mentality earlier in the season. Last year, we lost two of our first three games because we weren't mentally strong enough to overcome injuries and turnovers."

Those two games were the season opener at Summit Country Day (24-17) and their third game at Minford (42-35), both teams who finished with winning records, including Summit Country Day, who finished the season at 7-4 overall.

The defense of PV last season allowed 192 points, including three shutouts, Williamsburg (21-0), Southeastern (30-0) and Huntington (28-0), but there is still a little fine-tuning Hollon wants to see this season with his team.

"On defense this year, we must stop the run better," he said. "We have a very challenging preseason schedule that should help us work on that goal.

"Another thing we need this season is a ‘gamebreaker’ to step up for us. We lost some very good seniors from last year, so we'll need to replace what they brought to the team last season."

PV starts the season a little early this year, playing in the Ross County Kickoff Classic on Thursday, Aug. 27 at Chillicothe High School against Fisher Catholic at 7 p.m.

The Bearcats will follow that game with two more non-conference contests against Williamsburg (Sept. 4) and Minford (Sept. 11).

PV opens the SVC schedule in Week 4, where they will host Huntington.