XENIA — Xenia is looking to reach a high level of conceptual execution a year after making its third straight trip to the playoffs.
“We’re still in year two though,” head coach Maurice Harden said of how he is going about teaching his team. “We’re still in the infancy of understanding what we’re trying to do offensively and defensively, but for the most part they at least understand the game.”
The Bucs had a full 2021 season of ups and downs. Xenia was almost able to bounce back from rough defeats with a win each time, but another loss reared its ugly head the next time out.
A year of maturity from an experienced group is hoped to help address some of those woes and keep the ship afloat as the Bucs compete for a MVL Valley title after finishing second one year ago.
One of the most important spots on the roster is still filled by youth though with sophomore Gavin McManus, a honorable mention league performer as a freshman, taking the snaps again and Harden is interested to see what his development could bring to the team.
“The quarterback position is glorified, but people have no idea the work that’s required to do the job effectively,” Harden said. “It’s great he’s able to understand the concepts, he just has to go out and do it in live action consistently.”
Being surrounded by good, experienced players can help him. Xenia returns all four of its first-team All-MVL players from a season ago, including top statistical leaders in the MVL in receiving, interceptions and sacks in Tremell Wright and Jamell Smith.
Harden said he’s excited for the number of leaders he feels he has on his team and hopes they become examples for others to strive to become.
Should his team come to the level he is trying to develop with the inconsistencies removed, Xenia could be on its way to becoming a circled week by its future foes. For that to come to fruition, the Bucs will need to finish cleaning up its errors which plagued them last season first.
“I want to see us go out and persevere,” Harden said. “You want to see them being able to execute consistently.”
Coach: Maurice Harden (2nd year, 6-5)
2021 Record: 6-5; Points Per Game: 17.8 (Off.) 26.5 (Def.)
What to expect: Inconsistency was an issue in 2021 for the Bucs. Xenia had three wins by at least two touchdowns, but never came within 29 points in any of its losses.
Key Players: Tremell Wright, Sr., WR (2021 stats: 44 receptions, 646 yards, 7 TD; 5 carries, 30 yds; 61 tackles, 41 solo, 5 INT, TD, FR); Jaxen Lewis, Sr., LB (88 tkls, 42 solo, 2.5 sacks, 2FF, FR); Gavin McManus, So., QB (118-231 passing, 1,345 yds, 9 TD, 6 INT); Jamell Smith, Sr., LB (81 tkls, 47 solo, 8 sacks, 3 FF, 2FR); Jackson Tate, Sr., TE (23 rec. 198 yds, TD); Trei’Shaun Sanders, Sr., RB (158 car., 792 yds, 4 TD)
Aug. 19 — at Beavercreek — 7 p.m.
Aug, 26 — at Troy — 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 — FAIRBORN — 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — PIQUA — 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — at Greenville — 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — TIPPECANOE — 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — at Butler — 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — STEBBINS — 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 — WEST CARROLLTON — 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — at Sidney — 7 p.m.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.