XENIA — With a little more depth and a lot of coaching experience on its staff, the Xenia High School Buccaneers look to build on their successes of 2014.
“I feel like our schedule is very demanding, but we feel like we’re worthy of playing that kind of schedule,” said Bob DeLong, Xenia’s head football coach. “I feel like that’s the level of play that we practice at, and it’s the level of play that we expect to play at.”
A season ago, Xenia was 6-0 against teams its own size and below. They lost to Division I programs Cincinnati Moeller, Lebanon, Miamisburg and Springboro.
DeLong says he’s comfortable with who he has at quarterback “as long as it’s that tall kid,” Danny Naylor. The 6-foot-5 senior finished third in the Greater Western Ohio Conference in passing yards with 1,791 last season. DeLong brought on longtime Wayne High coach Mike Schneider as the team’s quarterbacks coach. Naylor first began working with Schneider in sixth grade.
Look for “The James Gang” — Rocky and Ray James — to once again be key components in the Buccaneers’ offense. DeLong says opposing defenses will have a challenge in finding them, because they will be playing at many offensive skills positions this season. Look for Kobe Hughlett to impress at wide receiver, too.
The key might lie on the offensive line. Cody Smith, Daniel Beam and Devin Hatfield return. DeLong hopes Andrew Jones, Peyton Bartley and/or Tayon Howell can fill into the other two O-line positions.
Xenia’s front six or seven players should be good defensively, DeLong says. Ryan Hudson, Kyle Hollen, Kyle Lawson and the same d0-everything Cody Smith from off the O-line should play a key role on the defensive line.
Tanner Steward, the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s leading tackler last season with 137, and Roman Johnson (113 tackles) lead a solid linebacking corp.
DeLong likes what he’s seen from his defensive secondary thus far, too.
“Rocky James is solid at one cornerback spot, and Ryan Johnson is making lots of progress. Anthony Brewer and Ken Klontz at outside safety … I really like both of those guys a lot,” DeLong said.
With soccer-style kicker Blake Bond handling the kicking duties, DeLong is feeling pretty good about his special teams play. DeLong will have Naylor’s strong leg hitting punts, and he said Rocky James is a very reliable long snapper, too.
With a staff of 14, Xenia’s coaching staff has 266 years of coaching experience. That coaching leadership, combined with 14 players with starting experience and a solid influx of freshman and sophomore talent, has the Bucs aiming high this season.