Sports Talk: Fort Frye football has a nice nucleus of returnees

BEVERLY – With its starting quarterback and most of its line back, that’s at least two good reasons for optimism in the Eric Huck-coached Fort Frye football camp.

Chandler Lang is once again expected to take center snaps, and he has experienced blockers in front of him in people like left guard Garrett Hall, center Drew Layton, right guard Tyler Wittekind, and right tackle Branden Close.

Is another playoff run possible?

Could be.

Last year, Fort Frye was the only high school in Washington County to advance to the postseason. That the Cadets dropped a 49-7 decision at Kirtland in the opening round did not diminish a fine overall 8-3 campaign.

The Fort graduated some good ones from that 2012 fall squad, including left tackle Dylan Bowman, tight end Tyser Shilling, running back Max Alsbach, running back Spencer Lang, wide receiver Tyson Riggs, and wide receiver/punter Justin Massey.

Somehow, those people will have to be replaced. Someone is going to have to step up.

Right now, the big question mark is who will Chandler Lang be handing off to in the backfield? Last year, Spencer Lang and Alsbach combined to rush for over 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Chandler Lang himself is a very good running QB, gaining over 800 yards and scoring 15 TDs last season. But he can’t do it by himself, and Huck and his staff know this.

Huck said that “50 kids signed up to play football” this upcoming fall. Surely, there will be a running back or two or three in that mix.

The Cadets will have some other positions to fill as well, like left tackle, tight end, and wide-outs.

Overall, though, things look pretty good for the red, white, and blue gridders.

As for Fort Frye’s 2013 slate, the Cadets will be spending a lot of time on the road this season. After kicking off the season against River in Beverly on Aug. 30, they play five consecutive away games (See schedule).

The Fort has only four home games this season and one new opponent (Connotton Valley), which it is scheduled to play on the road.

Practice officially begins for the Cadets from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1.Thereafter, the sessions will run from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, it’s from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

At this stage, it’s difficult to determine which school will be the team to beat in the always-competitive Pioneer Valley Conference (PVC). But Fort Frye should definitely be in the hunt.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441, or at