BEALLSVILLE - Following in the footsteps of a veteran and successful coach is never easy. When that coach is your dad, it takes on even greater significance.
Scooter Tolzda, who built Beallsville into a consistent winner during his long stay on the Blue Devils' bench, has moved on to become head coach at Monroe Central, taking 300-plus victories along with him.
The Beallsville Board of Education didnt have to look far for a capable replacement as Tolzda's son, Casey, is filling his Blue Devils shoes.
"I never set out to be a head coach," the 26-year-old Tolzda said. "However, I love coaching basketball. It did not matter to me whether I was a head coach or an assistant. After everything transpired last season, we lost eight seniors and two coaches, so somebody had to step up. I just want to do what is best for the program, school and community. Being a head coach is a lot of pressure and responsibility, but I have a great coaching staff and a great group of boys.
"I get this question all of the time," when asked about how he feels replacing his dad. "I grew up around the program ever since I was a little boy with my dad. I love Beallsville and have a special place in my heart for the basketball program. I think my dad, along with others, have done a great job to build the program up to a better place. I hope to continue to move the program in the right direction."
Beallsville enjoyed a stellar season in Scooters swan-song. The Blue Devils finished as OVAC Class A runners-up, losing to Madonna in the finals after defeating Conotton Valley in the semifinals.
However, graduation stripped the Blue Devils of much of the talent from last year's 18-3 squad. In fact, Tolzda will launch his maiden voyage as a head coach with only two returning lettermen. Compounding the lack of experience is a smaller turnout than usual.
The downsides are offset by Beallsville ushering in a sparkling new gymnasium.
"The kids have been working real hard despite our low numbers. We have 15 players, which is low for us. But we will have a reserve team," Tolzda said. "This group has put a lot of time and work in since this summer. Teryn (Jarrett) is going to have to shoulder much of the scoring burden."
Jarrett will likely be up to the task. The 6-foot-2 guard already has more than 700 points for a career and is a virtual lock to crack the coveted 1,000 plateau, barring injury.
He is a four-year letterman and enters the season, coming off a glowing grid career, surpassing 6,000 passing yards.
"Teryn is a talented and versatile player. He works hard to improve his basketball skills," Tolzda said. "Teryn is a super shooter and scorer. We will rely heavily on him this season."
Kyle Groves is the only other letterman. He is a skilled 6-1 senior guard.
"Although we lack height, our posts are physical and getting better," Tolzda said. "We do possess some quickness and some shooters. We hope to be able to play man-to-man defense if our depth permits us.
"We have been having great practices and some of our early scrimmages have went well. The new gym hopefully will help us when we get into tournament play. The old place was just so small."
Tolzda has punched juniors Dalton Secrest and Logan Nippert into the starting lineup.
Secrest should prove a major force inside. He is a 6-1, 270-pound forward. Nippert, meanwhile, is a 5-10 guard.
Four players are battling for the final starting berth, although two have been currently sidelined by injuries.
In the mix are 5-11 senior forward Kage Rush, junior John Dietrich, a 6-1 guard; 6-3 sophomore forward Tristan Palmer and promising 5-9 freshman swingman Chase Mercer.
Unfortunately, Palmer and Mercer are nursing injuries, slowing their progress.
The Blue Devils' varsity roster includes three other performers. Bidding for court time are 5-6 sophomore guard Chad Louden, 6-4 freshman forward Mason Campbell and classmate Cole Susac, a 5-9 forward.
Four more Blue Devils are ticketed for jayvee duty to start the season. The quartet is composed of 5-11 junior forward Jeremy Brown, 5-10 junior forward Aaron West, 5-5 frosh guard Dawson Weekly and 5-9 frosh guard Logan Heath.
Beallsville has added Shenandoah, Newcomerstown, Bishop Donahue and Union Local to its schedule.
Tolzda is being assisted by a trio of aides in Jordan Stephens, Justin Friday and Delmas Moore.
While Tolzda is still young in chronological years, he has coaching knowledge and savvy beyond his years.
"I have been fortunate to be around my dad and Dave Caldwell for a long time. They are both tremendous coaches. I have learned a lot from both," Tolzda said.