STEUBENVILLE - Steubenville is coming off three 2012 losses and faces an uncharacteristically high four 2013 road games.
"Our kids have worked extremely, extremely hard," said Reno Saccoccia, who is entering his 31st season at the Big Red helm and sports a career record of 311-56. "They want to get the taste of last year's three losses out of their mouthes.
"These kids can accept constructive criticism and that's important in athletics. You are going to get criticized but if you take the constructive criticism and learn from it, which is what our guys are doing right now, that's a good thing."
Big Red will begin its quest tonight when Detroit Central, one of four new teams on the schedule, visits Harding Stadium. For the first time since 2002, Big Red will play four regular-season games on the road (Brooke, Wheeling Park, Barberton and Youngstown Ursuline).
Twelve lettermen return as Big Red looks to keep its playoff streak going. Saccoccia's 50-man roster includes 12 seniors, 18 juniors and 20 sophomores.
"We've had young teams before but this might be one of the youngest recently," Saccoccia said. "But, remember with youth comes enthusiasm and when you are enthusiastic, good things happen. Youth is still hungry.
"You can have a bunch of veterans out there and sometimes they do things with a little less enthusiasm. The young kids may not always get lined up right, but they have that enthusiasm. We'll be fine once they start getting lined up right and know what they're doing. That's my goal right now."
During the early days of camp, Saccoccia indicated his offense has "been real good with base plays."
Several underclassmen are looking to replace Corey Stinson as the Big Red quarterback. Stinson passed for 1,347 yards and 11 touchdowns in his only season as Steubenville's signal caller.
Sophomores Dimitri Collaros and Mandela Lawrence-Burke are competing for the job, as is junior Robbie Agresta. Freshmen Shyonne Petteway and Alec Davis also were mentioned as candidates.
"Whomever comes out after the second scrimmage will start the season," Saccoccia said. "If things continue to go as they are, we'll probably have two quarterbacks going into the third game, but not after that."
Heading into the 2012 season, the tailback position was a major concern for Saccoccia. This time around there are plenty of candidates.
Senior Robert Hayden (233 yards), junior Donte Brown (361 yards) and sophomore Johnny Blue (179 yards) combined for 103 carries. Senior Garon Lytle, sophomore Matt Sherrell and junior Kahil Owens also are in the hunt for playing time.
Fullback candidates include senior Kai McClurg, sophomore Devin Ferguson, sophomore Jeremy Blue, junior Dondre Brown and sophomore Amir Richmond.
Big Red also has plenty of depth at receiver. Candidates include seniors Bryan Pierro (three catches in 2012) and Michael Jett (five catches), junior Lucas Herrington (five catches), sophomore Niko Petrides, senior Cody Saltsman (12 catches), junior Bradley Newburn, junior Jordan Gamble, senior Perrier Coleman, Agresta, sophomore Joey Walkosky, junior Zack Burch, junior Travis Wolfe, junior Oko Anyabwile and sophomore Tavian Williams.
Looking for playing time at tight end are senior Camron King, senior Arin Goldsmith, junior Branden Jones, sophomore Anthony Zorne, sophomore Paul Runkle and junior Devin Smith.
Seniors Jaylin Williams and Chris Starlipper, who saw considerable playing time in 2012, are back at offensive tackle. Others seeking playing time are senior Tyler Ingram, junior Darien Evans, junior Joey Mastroianni, sophomore Rocky Gardner, junior William Harvey and sophomore Vinny Craig.
The guard candidates include junior Jake Boni, sophomore William Poploski, junior Darrell Solomon, sophomore A.J. Cochran and sophomore Bryce Ferrell.
Junior David Lulla is competing for the starting job at center along with sophomores Timmy Albertson and Seth Biacco.
Petrides, Lawrence-Burke and junior Tevon Gary are looking to replace Luke Smith as the punter. Smith also handled kickoff, field-goal and extra-point chores in 2012. Gary and sophomore Ethan Stover are battling for the right to be the kicking specialist.
Goldsmith (six sacks) and King (22 solo tackles, two sacks) are back at defensive end and will be supported by Harvey and Poploski.
Solomon leads the candidates for the nose tackle. Starlipper, Williams, Boni, Runkle and Ingram also will see time along the line.
McClurg (24 tackles), Donte Brown (39 tackles and two sacks) and Hayden (34 tackles and two sacks) top the returnees at linebacker. Others looking for time are Saltsman, Johnny Blue, Ferrell, Gamble, Ferguson, Sherrell, Dondre Brown, Owens, Smith, Lytle, Jeremy Blue, Jones, Zorne and Biacco.
Pierro (47 tackles and two interceptions) and Jett (22 tackles and one pick) are the top returnees in the secondary.
Herrington, Petrides, Coleman, Lawrence-Burke, Agresta, Collaros, Walkosky, Newburn, Wolfe, Anyabwile and Williams will also see duty.
Perrier Coleman, Arin Goldsmith, Robert Hayden, Tyler Ingram, Michael Jett, Camron King, Garon Lytle, Kai McClurg, Bryan Pierro, Cody Saltsman, Chris Starlipper, Jaylin Williams.
Robbie Agresta, Oko Anyabwile, Jake Boni, Dondre Brown, Donte Brown, Zach Burch, Darien Evans, Jordon Gamble, Tevon Gary, Lucas Harrington, William Harvey, Branden Jones, David Lulla, Joey Mastroianni, Bradley Newburn, Kahil Owens, Devin Smith, Darrell Solomon, Travis Wolfe.
Timmy Albertson, Seth Biacco, Jeremy Blue, Johnnie Blue, Mandella Lawrence-Burke, Dimitri Collaros, A.J. Corcoran, Vinny Craig, Devin Ferguson, Bryce Ferrell, Rocky Gardner, Niko Petrides, William Poploski, Amir Richmond, Paul Runkle, Matthew Sherrell, Ethan Stover, Joey Walkosky, Tavian Williams, Anthony Zorne.