Belpre football hopes to bounce back

BELPRE — For Greg Adams, who played football at Belpre under Ralph Holder, 2017 will be his eighth season at the Golden Eagles’ grid helm

The first few years were a struggle for Adams and his staff, but eventually they turned things around, culminating in back-to-back state playoff berths in 2014 and 2015 before last season’s slide back under the .500 mark at 4-6

“We had some really nice players in a two, three-year span there,” said Adams.

But his assessment of last year is basically that attitude killed the season.

“Last year, we had an attitude problem,” said Adams. More specifically for Adams, “we had issues with players who just didn’t want to put out,” culminating in “the last game of the season being probably the hardest defeat against Waterford that I’d ever went through” in a 68-0 loss.

“I was absolutely beside myself, and I ended up playing freshmen, sophomores and a couple juniors.”

But things have apparently gotten straightened out and are back to normal in Golden Eagle land, with Adams “thinking we’ve got a nice squad this year. Their work ethic is unbelievable.

“I’m really excited about this year’s squad, and if we can get these kids just to execute what we teach them, we could do very well this season.”

However, there are some obstacles for Belpre to overcome this season. The Golden Eagles are young, need more linemen and a freshman could start at quarterback.

“We’re young with only five seniors, nine juniors and the rest freshmen and sophomores,” said Adams of his roster of 28 players.

“But we have several juniors who have gotten a lot of playing time, as well as our sophomores last year as a freshman got a lot of playing time too.

“So hopefully, we’ll be able to take those five seniors and surround them with juniors and sophomores, and maybe some freshmen as well will probably step in and help us a lot.”

He singled out freshman Sean Tabler (QB/LB), who “I really like,” said Adams, along with two more frosh in 6-0, 275-pound Collin Alloway (OL/DL) and Connor Baker (WR/CB). “They’ll all have an opportunity to play,” said Adams, “and the rest of the kids, we’ll work them in as they progress.”

One of Adams’ main concerns right now is on the line with the departure of quite a number of personnel up front — “no question about that,” he said — led by four-year starter at center in Logan Racy plus Andrew Klingler and Aric Ross along with Zach Becker, Alex Fox, Isaac Millard and Noah Herrick to really deplete that group.

With only junior Gavin Reams returning at center and no senior linemen this year, juniors Jesse Collins, Zach Allen and Gavyn Freeland will step in to fill those gaps first and foremost with obviously substantial help from their teammates, whether they be juniors, sophomores or just mere freshmen. “But the nice thing is the linemen we have did get a lot of playing time last year as youngsters,” said Adams, “so we’ll be looking for them to step up and do the job for us.”

For Greg Adams himself, “I’ve been rehabbing a new hip and new knee,” he related. After hip surgery in November, three months later came knee surgery in February. “I’ve been off a cane now for more than a solid week and the only thing I’ve really noticed are little tweaks here and there in my muscles, which aren’t back to where they need to be yet,” said Adams. “But I should be good to go come August, because I’m walking pretty good now and am pain free.”

Otherwise, Belpre too Belpre has moved up to Division VI status in Ohio high school from Division VII.

Which just leaves the quarterback situation. Tabler and sophomore Brandon Simoniette are the Golden Eagles’ top two quarterbacks “in our opinion right now,” said Adams.

Other key offensive positions will probably see senior speedster Tojzae Reams, an All-Ohio track athlete who finished 8th in the 300 hurdles this year, and junior Ryan Simoniette slated at running back, with senior Isaac Tullius at fullback, and Ryan Simoniette again along with speedy sophomore Logan Adams at wingback.

At receivers will be Collins and senior Bailey Sprague, “one at split end and the other at tight end,’ said Greg Adams.

“It’s going to be an interesting season for us,” said the head cosch. “I think we have a lot of speed and a neat thing is we do have a lot of athletes on this team that can produce.”