SIDNEY — Lehman is making final preparations for taking on a brand new opponent this season, with Fort Recovery taking the place of county rival Anna in week one.
The two teams will play their first meeting at Fort Recovery Friday night in the regular-season opener, and both are coming off similar seasons in 2014.
Lehman wound up 10-3, with two of the losses coming to state champions Minster and Marion Local. The season ended with that loss to Marion in the regional championship game.
Fort Recovery finished 6-4 during the regular season — a good mark when playing in the Midwest Athletic Conference — and advance to the postseason, where their campaign ended one week prior to Lehman’s, also in a loss to Marion Local. The Indians finished with a 7-5 record, and three of their losses came to state champions Minster and Marion Local (twice).
“I think the big thing for us will be how we play defense,” said Lehman head coach Dick Roll, in his 10th season. “They have a very impressive quarterback, a nice running back and some very skilled receivers. We have to be able to stop the run and not let them hit the home run against us.”
Fort Recovery returns nine starters from last season and 15 lettermen in all. Caleb Martin returns at quarterback and is still just a junior. He threw for over 1,500 yards last season, and also has his top receiver back in Wes Wenning in the Indians’ spread offense.
The big question for Recovery is replacing four linemen and three linebackers.
Roll also had some big shoes to fill, starting with versatile Greg Spearman and quarterback Nick Rourke. Spearman scored 25 touchdowns during the regular season, and also led the Cavaliers in tackles on defense. Rourke threw for over 2,000 yards in the regular season.
“We’re going to miss quite a few players from last year,” said Roll. “Nick was a good one, but we’re fortunate to have a guy the quality of Stephen Monnin to step in. He’s an outstanding quarterback.
“The concern we have is the same one we’ve had since the beginning, and that’s depth,” he said, adding that there are 42 out for the squad this season. “We have kids playing both ways and a lot of young kids. But I think we made considerable improvement from our first scrimmage to our third, and we grew. Especially our skilled people. I saw a tremendous amount of improvement there. Those kids did a great job learning the game and catching the ball.
“Guys like Jake Earhart and Wyatt Long really had a nice camp,” he added. “Jake is by far our best back. He’s out best blocker and runner, and he can catch the ball. Wyatt was a surprise to me in his ability to play linebacker.”
The Cavs will play at home for the first time next week when defending Division VI state champion Minster comes to Sidney.
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818.