VetteMan: As far as the Trojans, I guess I could give the typical "we're going to surprise some people" line as do a lot of people when they're talking about their team. Fact is, though, that this Trojan team will start the season with a lot of inexperience, losing 4 starters from a year ago......notice I didn't say we don't have some talent, because from an athletic standpoint, this will be the most athletic team (speed, quickness, getting up and down the court, jumping ability) since the regional final team of 2015. 6-2 Junior Matthew Fraulini returns from a season where he averaged 14 PPG as a sophomore. If Zach Loveday weren't the preseason POY in the OVC, Fraulini would be in the mix for that award. Statewide, he's ranked in the top 50 of the state. Other starters most likely will be 6-3 SR Myquel McKinley, 6-2 SO Miles Shipp, and 6-0 SR Daniel Lattimore. The 5th starter is wide open. McKinley has lost 15 lbs.playing soccer for PHS and is in great shape. He will be a difficult matchup in the post for opponents. Also 6-6 SR Andrew Meadows will figure prominently in Coach Collins plans. He has worked hard this summer, and will give the Trojans a true defensive presence in the post, either as a starter or coming off the bench.
I honestly believe Portsmouth is 1 year away from seriously competing for the OVC title and making a serious tournament run to the regionals, maybe beyond. This year, though, will be exciting because there is talent with inexperience, and with that uncertainty.
As far as Coal Grove, the Hornets do return Music and Borders, however, they lost 2 key players in Jeb Jones and Sam Angelo, who were very important in CG's run to the regionals a year ago. Judging from their JV squad last season, I don't see anyone that can replace the physical presence inside that those two players gave them. They will be competitive, but they could struggle offensively at times.
The OVC belongs this year to the Gallia Academy Blue Devils. They are a prohibitive favorite to win the title, and perhaps go undefeated in league play. As I mentioned above, though, keep an eye on Ironton. Charlie Large, Ethan Wilson,and Reid Carrico give the Fighting Tigers a solid nucleus for Coach Lafon. I think they pose the biggest threat to GAHS, but I also think Chesapeake will make a big move up to the top 3 of the league standings. The Panthers have most of their team back, including 6-3 SO Eli Archer, who had 21 points at Portsmouth last season.