By TONY VIOLA
EAST LIVERPOOL - The 5-15 overall record may not show it, but Rick Prescott is making progress entering his third season as East Liverpool's coach.
When Prescott took over the program, the Potters were fresh off a playoff season but only had 28 players on the roster.
Now, that number has jumped to 65.
''We've got a full freshman and jayvee schedule,'' Prescott said. ''That's the first time in about nine years we've had that. It's nice that our young guys are getting to play and getting to develop and we don't have to throw them out there too early.
''Last year was a positive year. Even though we didn't get the wins we wanted, we made vast improvements in all phases of the game. We won the last three games we played in. We return almost everyone. For us, we're looking forward to an exciting season. It's the first time we've been senior-oriented for a while. Most of these kids have been playing since they were freshmen and sophomores.''
Twenty seniors will look to lead the Potters, including running backs John Misuck (6-foot-1, 218 pounds), John Rickerd (5-10, 215) and Kaleb Tallent (5-10, 186).
''Being an offensive line guy, I want to run the ball,'' Prescott said. ''There's no way around that. Teams know we're going to run the ball. That's what we tried to do the last two years.''
When East Liverpool isn't trying to ground and pound, returning junior quarterback Kade Reynolds (5-9, 158) will try to get the ball into the hands of what Prescott calls four quality receivers.
''We have four receivers who are very capable of catching the ball,'' he said. ''We have a quarterback who has a year under his belt and has made vast improvements. We're excited. We really are. We actually have options this year offensively where as in the past, we haven't had that.''
In addition to experience at all the skill positions, the Potters also welcome back their entire offensive line from a season ago.
''Plus we have three guys that have started multiple games on top of that because of injuries and stuff last year. We actually have about nine guys that we're looking to play up front. We ended up going from not very deep last year because of injuries to having good, quality depth this year.''
That group includes senior guard Jacob Michael (5-11, 246), senior tackles Cole Hamilton (5-11, 248) and Dalton Brewer (6-0, 241) and senior center Jimmy Lisk (6-2, 194).
Others that will see playing time on the O-line include sophomore Ryan Lilly (6-0, 221), juniors Josh Woolley (6-3, 249), Nick Cotter (6-2, 271), Jarred Yanik (6-0, 228) and Dalton Cornman (5-9, 189).
Joining Miscuk, Rickerd and Tallent in the backfield will be sophomore Dillon Reynolds (-0, 189), while junior Brent Waggle (5'9, 150), sophomores Jullian Cowart (5-9, 141), and Raequan Eliam (5-6, 129) will provide depth.
''They've all done a nice job,'' Prescott said. "As a coach who wants to run the ball, those are four guys you want and need.''
The receiving corps will feature seniors Zach English (6-1, 161), D.J. Austin (5-7, 140), Marcus Beebout (5-10, 149) and junior Jason Kutzner (6-1, 188).
Those four will also make up the secondary.
''They all started last year. Once again, we're in the same boat where everyone has a year under their belts,'' Prescott said.
Other receivers listed on the roster are seniors Davonte' Oates, Marc Douglas (5-11, 151), Jacob Allen (5-7, 136) sophomore Dallas Brewer (5-11, 158), Austin Vranesevich (5-11, 141), Jacob Buckel (5'7, 128), and Tyler Bennett (5-11, 145).
Tight ends will be senior Chad Reed (5-10, 189) and sophomore Austin Dozier (6-0, 218).
The backfield will also double as linebackers.
''They're very seasoned group of linebackers. Real aggressive and physical. Very coachable,'' Prescott said. "They're a very intelligent group as well. They play well sideline to sideline for as big as they are.''
The defensive line, however, will be one unit that won't feature many two-way players.
Sophomore Charles Iacobucci (5-11, 282) and senior Chris Russell (5-10, 285) will play tackle, while Reed and Lilly will line up on the ends.
Other linemen include sophomores Luke Bowers (5-10, 269), Andrew Durk (5-8, 175), Nick O'Hanlon (5-9, 189), Austin Morris (5-9, 205), Devon Zubay (6-2, 249), junior Eddie Roberts (5-10, 197), and senior John Exline (5-9, 195).
''They're a good group. They're good size kids who move well for as big as they are,'' Prescott said. "This year we have a bit of an opportunity where the kids don't have to play both ways up front. For us, that helps quite a bit.''
Senior Justin Barr (5-9, 146) will handle kicking duties.
Another thing Prescott seems quit pleased about is the schedule. East Liverpool will face four opponents this year it didn't face a season ago.
''Our schedule is finally where we want it to be,'' he said. "We're an independent. Sometimes it's tough for us to schedule games, especially for being in the northern part of the valley. We finally play local.''
After starting the season on the road at Carrollton, East Liverpool will have four straight home games, highlighted by John Marshall on Homecoming night, and will finish with three consecutive road games against rivals Oak Glen, Beaver Local and Weir.
Prescott, though, can already see the team preparing for a Week 11 contest.
''We're looking to prepare for Week 11,'' he said. "Every coach should be thinking ... If you're not looking to make the playoffs, something's wrong with you. You're in the wrong business. Some years it's more realistic than others, but we're excited. We have a lot of hope for this year. We're driven by our senior group, which has done a great job of leading us.''
Prescott will be assisted by Dave Skinner, Carl Congo, Josh Ludwig, Jason Duke, Jim Olmstead, Eric McMahon and Gary Lutton.
Jacob Allen, D.J. Austin, Justin Barr, Marcus Beebout, Dalton Brewer, Marc Douglas, Zach English, John Exline, Cole Hamilton, Jimmy Lisk, Jacob Michael, John Miscuk, Davonte' Oates, Chad Reed, John Rickerd, Chris Russell, Kaleb Tallent
Dalton Cornman, Nick Cotter, Jason Kutzner, Eddie Roberts, Kade Reynolds, Brent Waggle, Josh Woolley, Jared Yanik
Tyler Bennett Dallas Brewer, Luke Bowers, Jacob Buckel, Jullian Cowart, Andrew Durk, Austyn Dozier, Raequan Eliam, Charles Iacobucci, Ryan Lilly, Austin Morris, Nick O'Hanlon, Dillan Reynolds, Austin Vranesevich, Devon Zubay
Logan Bouscher, Donavan Boyd, Xavier Carter, Corey Cotter, Even Dieringer, Zac Gill, Devon Hall, Dylan Ice, Hayden Jackson, Nathan Jackson, David Locke, Austin Mayfield, Caleb McHenry, Zac Mott, Chris Omrien, Robbie Penn, Freddie Plum, Noah Shaw, Trevor Shenton, Andrew Shreffler, Devin Streets, Scotty Tanner, Danny Wells, Ronnie Woods