Ricardo Rigsbee of the Groveport-Madison High School football team only had to do 25 up-downs during practice Aug. 13. The fact that the senior had to do 100 three days earlier and 50 the previous two days told him that his team was getting better.

Ricardo Rigsbee of the Groveport-Madison High School football team only had to do 25 up-downs during practice Aug. 13. The fact that the senior had to do 100 three days earlier and 50 the previous two days told him that his team was getting better.

Rigsbee primarily will play slot receiver this season, and he's trying to help the Cruisers' offense cut down on mistakes. The Cruisers were plagued by turnovers for much of last season and finished 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division, tying Gahanna and Pickerington North for fourth behind Pickerington Central (7-0), Grove City (6-1) and Lancaster (4-3) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (2-5) and Newark (0-7).

"We know we're getting better, but we're not accepting that," said Rigsbee, whose team opens Friday at home against Worthington Kilbourne. "We want to get it down to zero everyday. Really, our line is what pushed us to get those down because those big guys don't want to be doing up-down's every day. We're living off of them. If they go down, there's no offense. And then we just need to keep our quarterback's head in it."

Seventh-year coach Tim Brown believes the quarterback position is one of his team's strengths. Brown turned the offense over to then-freshman quarterback Shane Denney in week eight last year, and the Cruisers won two of their last three games, turning the ball over only once.

"(Denney) allows our running game to be so effective," Brown said. "We're not going to be so one-dimensional like we were last year."

Groveport is counting on Denney, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound sophomore, to make smart decisions and provide a passing game to complement a running game that will feature 6-2, 215-pound senior running back LeVeon Bell, who uses a blend of speed and power and is a Division I college prospect. Bell rushed for 1,031 yards on 174 attempts (5.9 yards per carry) last season.

Blocking for Bell will be an offensive line led by senior left guard Kwan Bailey and junior left tackle Anthony Pruitt, a move-in from Mifflin. Bailey has been one of Groveport's most valuable defensive linemen the last two seasons, and this year the Cruisers are counting on him on both lines. The rest of the offensive line features seniors Coty Pisulal (C), Zach Sizemore (RG) and Travis Dobbins (RT).

Leading the receiving corps are Rigsbee and 6-4 senior Myron Hill. Other receivers/wingbacks are seniors Dontell Higgins and Jamon Hayes.

Higgins, who was third in the 100 meters at the Division I state track and field meet last spring, and Hayes, the team's top kickoff and punt returner, also could spell Bell at running back. Junior Trayon Cassie will play tight end.

Brown considers the base offense to be a "hybrid-wing," in which one wing will be geared toward pass receiving and the other toward running. The base set is designed to balance the running and passing game.

Junior Turhaan Clayton will back up Denney.

Groveport will run a base 3-5 defense with Larry Sealy playing nose guard and seniors Bailey and Brian Sledge playing the ends. Junior Ridge Vance will be the middle linebacker, with senior Jordan Hendricks and junior Mackenzie Bozeman playing outside linebacker.

Hayes and Rigsbee will split time at one cornerback position and senior C.J. Johnson and junior Isaiah Davis will play the other.

Seniors Troy Nixon, Kolly Adebanjo and junior Curtiss Paige are the safeties, with Bell coming in to play the middle safety during certain situations.

"We simplified things and they understand it now that they've been playing it a little bit longer," Brown said. "We're going to read a little bit.

"We're going to cut down on the amount of things we do and try to get better quality on the things we do."