SALINEVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – After dropping a narrow 1-point defeat to Leetonia (14-131) in its season opener, Southern Local went on to win its next five games before falling to St. Paul (48-14) in the second round of the Division 7 playoffs.
The Indians took a share of the EOAC crown, along with Leetonia and United in 2020.
Coach Rich Wright is back for his seventh season at the helm of Indians football. Wright took over a program that finished 1-9 the year before he arrived in 2014. From there, his teams have compiled 24 wins in their last 30 games over the past three years.
“We lost a senior group that won three league championships,” Coach Wright said. “We always play a lot of young kids, so we’ll still have experience this season.”
The new season gets underway at Edison Friday, August 20.
2020 Record: 5-3 (5-1, T-1st place in EOAC)
Coach: Rich Wright, 7th season at Southern (33-27)
Previewing Southern’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 30.4 (19th in area)
Returning Starters: 4
Key Returnees: Ryan Exline, SO/QB; Bryce Foster, SR/OL; Chance Wooley, SR/WR
Key Losses: Hunter Morris, RB; Josh Pratt, QB; Bradly Sloan, ATH; Tim West, WR
Name to watch for: Ryan Exline, QB
The Indians must replace their starting quarterback Josh Pratt and the dynamic Brad Sloan this off-season. Pratt connected on 57.6% of his passes (57-99), while throwing for 1,149 yards and 13 touchdowns. Sloan was effective in every aspect of the game. He gained 11 yards per carry (55 attempts, 604 yards) and caught 22 passes for 565 yards (25.7 avg). He scored a total of 16 offensive touchdowns in 8 games.
“Replacing Brad Sloan will be hard on offense,” Wright said. “He was one of the fastest players I’ve ever coached.”
Sophomore Ryan Exline appears to be the quarterback of the future in Salineville. Exline has spent time on the varsity roster as a freshman quarterback this past year.
“We have three starters back,” Wright said. “We just have to get stronger. Bryce Foster, Payton Hershman and Hunter Robinson have all stood out [this off-season].”
Previewing Southern’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 19.6 (T-17th in area)
Returning Starters: 5
Key Returnees: Wyatt Morris, JR/LB; Chance Wooley, SR/LB
Key Losses: Hunter Morris, LB; Josh Pratt, DB; Bradly Sloan, DB; Tim West, DB
Name to watch for: Chance Wooley, LB
“Although we lost our all-time leading tackler, Hunter Morris [112 tackles, 19 TFL in 2020], we return great linebackers who fly to the football,” Wright said.
They’ll try to make up for the production that Hunter Morris, Brad Sloan (10 QB sacks), Tim West (4 INTs) and Josh Pratt (3 INTs) all contributed a year ago.
Wyatt Morris and Chance Wooley are both back in the fold. Morris finished second on the team in tackles with 66 as a sophomore. Wooley closed out his junior season with 56 defensive stops.
“Both Wyatt and Chance work extremely hard,” Wright said. “They’ve played a lot of football.”
2020 EOAC Standings
United – 5-1 (7-3)
Leetonia – 5-1 (7-2)
Southern – 5-1 (5-3)
Wellsville – 3-3 (4-6)
Columbiana – 3-3 (4-5)
Valley Christian – 2-4 (2-6)
Lisbon – 1-5 (4-7)
East Palestine – 0-6 (1-9)
Aug. 20 – at Edison
Aug. 27 – Crestview
Sept. 3 – East Canton
Sept. 10 – Lisbon
Sept. 17 – at Columbiana
Sept. 24 – at Wellsville
Oct. 1 – Leetonia
Oct. 8 – at Valley Christian
Oct. 15 – at East Palestine
Oct. 22 – at United