TENNERTON – The Buckhannon-Upshur football Buccaneers will start their 2020 campaign this Friday when they host the Ripley Vikings at 7:30 p.m. at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium.
The Bucs are coming off a competitive scrimmage against the Robert C. Byrd Eagles last Friday and head coach Duane Stoeckle is hoping to build on that momentum this Friday night.
“We are going into the opener with a great attitude,” remarked Stoeckle. “After watching the tape from our scrimmage, we felt we did some nice things. We made some mistakes but they are things we can correct. We had a great week of practice this week as well.”
When the Bucs take the field on offense, it will almost be a completely new look from last year with just a couple of players returning on that side of the ball.
Getting the nod at quarterback will be sophomore Ian Donnen with transfer sophomore Jayden Owens also seeing time at signal caller.
The backfield will be a rotation of sophomore Savion Farmer, senior Zachary Barcus and sophomore Elijah Bryant with Owens also seeing time there.
The outside wide receivers will be senior Riley Carr and junior Camden Snyder and the inside receivers will be junior Sterlin Thropp and junior Landon McLean.
“Really throughout camp, despite being so young, our guys have worked very hard and picked the stuff up we are trying to do on offense,” stated Stoeckle. “We will have a backfield by committee for now as each player brings something different to the offense. Donnen has had his nose in the playbook all summer. He can really run the offense and we are excited what he can do.”
The line will see junior Alex Bennett at left tackle, sophomore Joel Hershman at left guard, junior Kaiden Ball at center, Wilbur Snyder at right guard and sophomore Dalton Crites at right tackle.
Assistant coach and offensive coordinator Rob Carr added this about the B-U offense, “We understand we are young on offense. We really only have a couple of seniors that will be starting there. With youth we know they are going to mistakes, but you learn from that and correct it. Most haven’t made that same mistake twice.”
“We only have eight seniors on the roster,” stated Stoeckle. “The young players have really stepped up. A lot of younger players didn’t start last year but saw plenty of playing time. Most have a little bit of experience.”
Defensively, the Bucs will line up with a front line that will have junior Logan Kelley at one end, senior Trapper Samples at nose tackle, Crites at the other end while the linebackers will be Bennett at the Mike, Snyder, junior Cameron Ervin and senior Aaron Grubb on the outside.
The secondary will have Owens, McLean, Thropp and Carr.
“We want to be more aggressive on defense this year” remarked Stoeckle. “We would like to force more turnovers, we are really focusing on that, hoping to get more possessions for our offense.”
Junior Cameron Zuliani will handle the extra points and field goals while senior Hunter Cohen will handle kick-offs and Donnen will take care of the punting.
Turning his attention to Ripley, Stoeckle believes his Bucs and Vikings are very similar to one another.
“Offensively they will run some I-Pro and on defense they will run a stack like us,” noted Stoeckle. “They have two nice running backs in sophomore Joey Ramsey and senior Kadin Hall. Both looked impressive against Nitro in their scrimmage last week. We need to stop the run and force Ripley to throw the ball. I think it’s a good first game for both teams.”
Stoeckle said stopping the run is the key to victory for his Bucs Friday night.
“We have to stop the run…100 percent,” said Stoeckle. “We have to move the ball, have some nice drives, and pick up some first downs. But we have to get the ball in the end zone and finish our drives.”
In Tuesday’s edition of The Record Delta, we incorrectly stated the Bucs first three games were at home, using an outdated schedule as our source.
Following Friday night’s game, the Bucs will host Philip Barbour next week and then travel to Hampshire the following Friday.