After two seasons in which the New Albany High School football has failed to make a playoff appearance, not much appears to be changing with the Eagles.

After two seasons in which the New Albany High School football has failed to make a playoff appearance, not much appears to be changing with the Eagles.

Why should it?

The Eagles were in the thick of the playoff race last year before dropping two of their final three games by three points apiece. They finished 6-4 overall and third in the OCC-Capital Division at 4-2.

The formula appears to be working. The Eagles just need to "finish," according to senior quarterback Joe Morlan, who is entering his second season as the starter.

"We always seem to do good in the first half and the third quarter and always seem to fall short in the fourth quarter," Morlan said.

Morlan gives the Eagles an experienced quarterback to run an offense that prides itself in sticking to its beliefs, which are inside trap and belly plays, with an occasional counter to the wingback.

It's an offense predicated more on execution than deception.

Senior fullback Ben Imlay returns and is expected to be a staple in the offense, despite still recovering in the preseason from ankle surgery. Joining him in the backfield are juniors Jordan Gallegos, who was injured in the second game a year ago, Sly Hagan and Ross Watkins.

With the running game expected to chug along as usual, the added dimension could come from senior tight end Harrison Scott, who is 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. Scott has committed to Indiana and also will play defensive end.

He will provide Morlan a big target and also help anchor an offensive line that will look to use quickness more than brute force.

"We're a lot quicker," fifth-year coach Mark Mueller said. "We used to be able to line up and knock people off of the ball. We'll be able to do that, but it's not going to be something we're going to do on a regular basis. We're going to be a lot quicker and we have a couple of different schemes in to help us some."

Morlan also called the line quicker, but hinted that teams shouldn't expect to see anything more than the typical Wing-T they've relied on for years.

The offensive line will include seniors Sam Choi, Tyler Evans, Shawn Smith and Ty Wootton and juniors Clark Hillenbrand and Matt Odierno.

At receiver the Eagles will look for seniors Chandler Tunney, Andrew Mink, Brian Probst and junior Evan Franz. Sophomore Kevin Collins has been able to use his 6-3, 190-pound frame to work his way into the varsity rotation. Tunney is the veteran of the group.

On defense the Eagles will use a 3-5 base.

Choi returns at the nose guard, with Scott and Evans at ends.

Mueller's philosophy has been to regularly rotate defensive linemen, but he likes having three seniors up front.

"The D-line will be mostly seniors and that will probably be the strongest part of the defense," Scott said.

"(The rotation system) has given everybody experience at the varsity level and just having that experience counts a lot on the line."

Hagan added 20 pounds in the offseason, and, at 6-2, 215, will join senior Jeremy Warner and junior Matt White at linebacker. Senior Joe Callend is also expected to see time.

In the defensive backfield, Mink and Probst return as experienced safeties. They will be joined by Tunney and juniors Bryant Bednareck, Alex Cook, Franz and Demaree Parsons.

New Albany's two losses in OCC-Capital play left them behind Big Walnut (6-0) and Delaware (5-1) and ahead of Franklin Heights (2-4), Watkins Memorial (2-4), Mount Vernon (1-5) and Olentangy Orange (1-5) in the standings.

Because of a levy failure in the South-Western City Schools on Aug. 4, Franklin Heights is not competing in sports this fall. Instead, the Eagles will play Thomas Worthington on Oct. 9 in a non-league game.

The OCC schedule also includes first-year Hilliard Bradley.

"I think we're deeper than we have been in the past," Mueller said.

"We don't have some of the super stars, but we have people that can fill in. When you're losing key players from a tough OCC battle and you can't go that next week with them, the depth of the team is going to help."