The Fairfield Union High School football team competed with the elite teams last year in the MSL-Buckeye Division, and the Falcons will again look to challenge for a league championship.

The Fairfield Union High School football team competed with the elite teams last year in the MSL-Buckeye Division, and the Falcons will again look to challenge for a league championship.

"I think we're going to be competitive," coach Tom McCurdy said. "We have some seniors who have some experience, but we also have to rely on some young kids to step up and play early."

Last season the Falcons went 5-5 overall and finished third at 5-2 in the league behind Logan Elm (7-0) and Canal Winchester (6-1) after going winless in non-league play.

Fairfield Union returns talented players at running back, where the Falcons will rely on three seniors. Pat Seesholtz (6-foot-3, 230 pounds), Blake Bowen (6-0, 175) and Tyler Turner (6-0, 175) all started last season in the wing-T offense.

"They give us a nice combination," McCurdy said. "They complement each other well in our offense. We have three pretty good backs, and we won't have to rely on one back all the time."

Bowen has good speed and the potential to break big runs, while Seesholtz is a power back who will grind out tough yards.

Seesholtz was the leading rusher as a fullback last season.

"He's a bruiser," McCurdy said. "He's gotten bigger and stronger, and we're expecting some big things from him."

The situation on the offensive line is less settled, however.

Seniors Kyle Bigham (5-11, 210), Tony Moos (5-10, 205) and Travis Ashbaugh (6-0, 300) will anchor the line, but the coaches are looking for other players to fill in the remaining spots.

After the team's first scrimmage against Newark Catholic, the line looked better than expected.

"I was pleasantly surprised with our offensive line play," McCurdy. "That was a question mark coming in, but it seems like they are coming together a little bit."

Another uncertainty is at quarterback. Senior Joey Alford will likely be the starter, but he lacks game experience.

"We're not going to ask too much out of him. Just be able to manage the game, and lead us," McCurdy said.

While the Falcons primarily run the ball, they do have a talented receiver returning in Kevin Mathias (6-2, 175). The coaches like his playmaking ability and he also can spread out a defense to keep teams from stacking the line.

Defensively, Fairfield Union returns most of its secondary but is looking for someone on the line to replace graduated defensive tackle Ted Duvall.

Bowen, Alford and junior Joey Stewart will play in the secondary, and Seesholtz will play defensive end.

Joey Embrey (5-10, 185) will play one of the linebacker positions, and the Falcons are also looking toward some newcomers like sophomore Zach Wolfe (6-1, 190) to get playing time.

"The defense is coming together well," Seesholtz said. "All that experience we have is really teaching the younger kids that are stepping up, and we're moving them right along."

Although Fairfield Union finished with a .500 record last season, the Falcons played a difficult non-league schedule and finished third in the MSL-Buckeye.

In their two league losses, the Falcons dropped close games to Logan Elm (22-13) and Canal Winchester (20-16).

Those two teams were both undefeated heading into their week 10 showdown, which Logan Elm won 16-13 to capture the title.

"Those are the games when you have them up against the ropes you really have to finish," Seesholtz said.

"You have to dig deep, and you have to finish."