OLD WASHINGTON - For nearly 40 years, Dale Broomhall has been a Warrior.
Buckeye Trail is in his blood. That's why he assumed the reins of the school's varsity football program in 2012.
''We had three or four down years prior and we just needed a change,'' Broomhall said. ''We needed a change in thought process. We needed a change in work ethic. We needed a change in enthusiasm. I think we're headed in the right direction.''
So while most people saw last season's 4-6 record as not much of anything, it looked like much more through Broomhall's eyes.
''We were competitive and that's what we strived for last year,'' he said. ''We wanted to be competitive. We wanted to go out every game, play our best, and be in the game. That's what we hadn't had in years prior. So, I think we were successful in that.
''What we want to do now is take that next step. We're talking about taking that next step and not being satisfied with being 4-6. We're shooting for a winning season.''
It all starts for Buckeye Trail on Saturday with a visit to perennial playoff participant Ridgewood before Caldwell, Frontier and Barnesville visit the Baker Athletic Complex.
''It's a competitive schedule,'' Broomhall said. ''We'll face Ridgewood and that's a difficult opener for us.''
The Warriors' slate is unchanged for the most part. Gone are Shadyside and Bridgeport. They are replaced by West Muskingum and Meadowbrook, respectively.
A loss against the Tigers in Week 8 last season was part of a season-ending four-game slide that saw an impressive 4-2 start erased.
''We know what we need to do to compete,'' Broomhall said. ''We had some tough losses at Barnesville and against Fort Frye and River ... games that we thought we could win. We just have to take that next step.''
Graduation claimed ''seven solid kids'' but Broomhall has a ''good nucleus back.''
Among that group is senior quarterback Morgan Dougherty (6-foot-1, 180 pounds). The two-time letterwinner made his debut in Week 2 last season in a 29-7 victory against Caldwell.
''He has some nice speed and is the second-fastest kid on the team,'' Broomhall pointed out. ''He's very elusive, so we're going to run a lot of sets and try and get him on the edge.
''We'll run shots and boots and waggles ... we want to get the ball in his hands.''
Sophomore Levi Gadd (5-10, 160) will serve as Dougherty's backup, with freshman TJ Grafton (5-8, 155) also providing depth at the position.
While Dougherty is the focus of the offense, the Warriors have plenty of ''bangers'' in the backfield.
They include seniors Codey Kimble (5-7, 195) and Travis Pontius (5-10, 175), both two-time letterwinners, along with sophomore Tristen King (6-0, 195) and senior Collin Streiff (5-8, 225).
''We think we're strong inside the tackles,'' Broomhall said.
Also in the mix are junior Brady Neuhart (6-0, 170), sophomore Tim Parry (5-6, 190) and freshmen Troy Pontius (5-5, 140) and Carter Streiff (5-5, 140).
Candidates at tight end include sophomore Isiah Tucker (5-11, 190) and freshmen Jacob Doudna (6-2, 155) and Casey Stephens (5-7, 170).
Two-time letterwinner, and senior Bobby Sells (6-0, 170) returns at receiver. Senior letterwinners Tyler Starr (5-11, 155) and RJ Douglass (6-1, 170) also return.
Others in the mix at receiver are sophomore Johnathan Duffy (5-7, 155) and freshmen Gerrard Williams (5-5, 140) and Julio Rome (6-0, 150).
The offensive line is a strength with the return of four starters - guards senior Cory Cutlip (6-2, 270) and junior Dillon Pointer (6-1, 275), tackle sophomore Tyler Faulk (5-11, 225) and center Dalton Choate (6-2, 255).
The Warriors are deep on the line. Others on the depth chart include senior Jacob Francis (6-1, 245), juniors Casey Raber (6-2, 225), AJ Robertson (6-0, 230), Lydia Johnson (5-7, 170) and Jonathan Roe-Warner and freshmen Bricen Bates (5-10, 170), Parker Simonson (5-7, 145), Bryson Ogden (5-10, 160), Jacob Sudduth (5-10, 235) and Kyle Wilson (5-9, 255).
Cutlip, Pointer, Faulk and Choate will provided strength along the defensive front. Broomhall is also looking for more help, which could come from a group that consists of Francis, Raber, Robertson, Collin Streiff, Johnson, Roe-Warner, Bates, Simonson, Ogden, Sudduth (5-10, 235) and Wilson (5-9, 255).
King, Travis Pontius and Codey Kimble lead the way at linebacker. Also in the mix are Grafton, Stephens and Parry.
Sells and Starr will start at corner, with Dougherty at safety. Other candidates in the secondary include Troy Pontius, Gadd, Rome, Carter Streiff, Duffy, Vance and Williams.
''We actually have a good freshman group that I expect some good things from in a few years,'' Broomhall said.
Broomhall is assisted by Randy Thompson, Steve Mercer, Darin Wilson, Mike Neuhart, Kurtis Spratt, Mark Neuhart and Mike Legats.
Cory Cutlip, Morgan Dougherty, RJ Douglass, Jacob Francis, Codey Kimble, Travis Pontius, Bobby Sells, Tyler Starr, Collin Streiff.
Dalton Choate, Lydia Johnson, Brady Neuhart, Dillon Pointer, Casey Raber, AJ Robertson.
Jonathan Duffy, Tyler Faulk, Levi Gadd, Tristen King, Tim Parry, Isiah Tucker.
Bricen Bates, Jacob Doudna, TJ Grafton, Bryson Ogden, Troy Pontius, Julio Rome, Parker Simonson, Casey Stephens, Carter Streiff, Jacob Sudduth, Koltan Vance, Gerrard Williams, Kyle Wilson.