LANCASTER — While Chieftain Nation is witnessing an offseason of change, up the road in Lancaster it’s a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same.
While Billy Burke prepares for a new season with a new team taking on his alma matter, he can probably rely somewhat on game plans from previous Chieftain coaches on Friday night at Fulton Field.
Coming off a disappointing 3-7 season that was bookended by wins over rivals Logan and Newark in weeks one and 10, Lancaster turns to a new group of players to restore the Blue and Gold’s winning ways.
Lancaster is coming off its first losing season since the 2000 season. In fact, the Fairfield Countians have made only one playoff appearance since 2008 (that in 2009) after reaching the post-season in five straight seasons from 2003-2007.
Led by Ohio State-bound tackle/defensive end Kyle Trout (6-6, 305, senior) Lancaster hopes to return to the post-season in the newly re-aligned OHSAA Division I. Trout will lead the way for four extremely talented runners who will make the Gales wing-T offense click.
Alex Butsko (6-0, 190, junior) will be the quarterback for Carpenter’s team after starting nearly 10 games over the past two seasons due to injuries to Lancaster starters.
Butsko saw his first-ever action against Logan two years ago as a freshman and is an athletic runner and a better-than-average passer. Isaiah Dexter (6-2, 225, senior) moved into the fullback role during the second half of 2013 and gave LHS a consistency in the position they lacked early in the season.
Rounding out the backfield are two returning starters, Jerry King (5-11, 190, junior) and Jared Thompson (6-0, 180, senior) at the wingback positions.
Joining Trout up front are Colin Cheeseman (6-3, 280, senior), Christian Herold (6-4, 270, junior), Jacob Cox (5-9, 225, senior) and Billy Arnold (5-10, 260, junior).
Defensively, Lancaster again poses a size and athleticism gap that is always hard for Logan to overcome. The 2013 Gales won’t be much different.
Trout will line up at defensive end while Jeremy Thrush (5-11, 245, senior) is a returning starter at defensive tackle. Kawai Moku (6-1, 220, senior) will play opposite of Trout.
Dexter will lead a strong linebacking corps and will be joined by Nate Thompson (6-2, 200, senior), Collin Reef (6-2, 185, junior), and Alek LaVeck (5-11, 220, senior).
Beau Stewart (6-2, 170, senior) is the lone returning contributor in the secondary.
Logan football historian Spencer Waugh of loganfootball.com previews the Chiefs’ opponent every Thursday in The Logan Daily News.