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Football 2012: Expectations Growing Higher for Frontier

August 22, 2012
By RICK THORP , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

BEAVERTOWN - There's only one way to go at Frontier, and that's up.

Coming off an 0-10 campaign in which it averaged nearly 10 points per game, seventh-year coach Todd Bradford is excited about what lies ahead for the Cougars.

''Things have gone very well (during the preseason),'' he said. ''I have no complaints.''

Frontier's winless season in 2011 was mainly the result of having little to no experience. Bradford said his players are eager to show they've grown up a bit.

''From what I've seen all throughout the offseason and even back to last school year, these young men have displayed a positive attitude and have done other things outside of what I've asked them to do.

''I think they have taken some initiative to make themselves better.''

Fact Box

Aug. 24: at Shenandoah7 p.m.

Sept. 1: at Steub. Catholic7 p.m.

Sept. 7: Buckeye Trail7 p.m.

Sept. 14: at Bridgeport7 p.m.

Sept. 21: Beallsville7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28: at Fort Frye7 p.m.

Oct. 5: Caldwell7 p.m.

Oct. 12: Valley7 p.m.

Oct. 19: Monroe Central7 p.m.

TBD: at River7 p.m.*

*at Magnolia


The Cougars also have more players on the roster.

''We have a good number back,'' Bradford said. ''Thirty-two for a small school in (Ohio) Division VI (Region 23)? I think if we're in the 30s we're pretty fortunate.''

One position Bradford is comfortable with is quarterback, where senior Jordan Jefferson (6-foot, 170 pounds) returns.

''He's definitely improved,'' Bradford said. ''He really had to learn how to be a football player again last year. He hadn't played since junior high.

''He's such a good athlete. He definitely took his lumps, but if we had to play our first game tomorrow, he'd be ready to.''

Frontier opens the season Friday night at PVC rival Shenandoah.

Bradford praised Jefferson's speed and quickness, which are in line with the Cougars' offensive philosophy.

''We'll utilize everything he can do,'' Bradford said.

Backing up Jefferson will be a pair of sophomores - Mitch Reynolds (5-8, 145) and Seth Foutty (5-9, 165) - along with promising freshman Damon Metheney (5-10, 140).

The backfield is also full of familiar faces.

Senior Taylor Merckle (6-1, 185) returns along with junior Jared Howell (5-11, 180). Sophomore Donavon Bowley (5-9, 160) is also mix along with junior Dakota Welker (5-10, 175), a transfer from the Findlay, Ohio, area.

Junior Dylan Absher (6-1, 165) anchors the receiving corps along with classmate Eddie Salazar (5-5, 145).

''We also have a lot of young kids trying to work their way in there,'' Bradford said.

Along the offensive line, senior Kris Comstock (6-0, 235) moves to guard from center. Likely taking his place will be senior Tyler Hunt (6-1, 260), who's back in the program after a stint in Williamstown.

Senior Takoda Boley (6-1, 220) returns at guard, while another senior, Cole Farley (6-4, 205) is back at tackle.

The other tackle will be manned by another returner, junior Austin Kimble (6-3, 270).

Sophomore Lane Curtis (5-9, 200) is also a candidate for line play.

There were plenty of questions along the defensive line during camp. Comstock will play nose tackle, while Kimble Farley will be at defensive end. Other than that, Bradford said the other spots were up for grabs.

There's no quandary at linebacker, though.

Merckle played on the inside last season, along with Howell. Senior Dusty Wright (5-11, 180), who also plays tight end, is another candidate there.

Salazar has cemented a spot at outside linebacker. Senior Josh Kirkbride (6-1, 175) is in the mix, too.

Absher will be one of the corners.

''He's played some basketball ... he's a good looking kid and we can see him as a shutdown corner,'' Bradford said.

Jefferson will see time in the secondary along with senior Jared Irvin (5-6, 145). Sophomore Mitch Reynolds (5-8, 145) is another candidate.

''I think these guys have a good attitude,'' Bradford said. ''They understand some things didn't go our way in the past and part of the learning process is things sometimes not going their way.

''Hopefully, we learn from it and don't repeat it.''

Bradford is assisted by Rev. Byron Bufkin, Adam Olson, Scott Murphy, Ryan Haessly, Keith Robinson, Corey Fickiesen, Chad McCleish, Scott Carter and Drew Crawford.

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