Despite the fact that it has new starters at quarterback and running back and only one defensive starter returns, the Canal Winchester High School football team has its sights set on the MSL-Buckeye Division title and a trip to the Division II playoffs.

Despite the fact that it has new starters at quarterback and running back and only one defensive starter returns, the Canal Winchester High School football team has its sights set on the MSL-Buckeye Division title and a trip to the Division II playoffs.

The Indians made postseason appearances each of the last three seasons and had just two league losses in that same span.

"We're always going to have big goals, and we want to keep raising that bar," fourth-year coach Phil Mauro said. "It's been a two-year drought without a league title, so being able to secure a league championship would be huge. We'd also like to be successful in the postseason."

Last season, Canal Winchester finished 8-3 overall after a 30-7 loss to Logan in the first round of the playoffs.

The Indians also placed second in the MSL-Buckeye at 6-1 behind Amanda-Clearcreek (7-0) - which beat Canal Winchester 7-0 in week three of the conference schedule.

Rounding out the standings were Logan Elm (5-2), Fairfield Union (4-3), Teays Valley (3-4), Circleville (2-5), Bloom-Carroll (1-6) and Hamilton Township (0-7).

Canal Winchester, which averaged 28.5 points a year ago, returns a number of key players on offense, including Ben O'Bryant, Ryan Toledo and Mitchell Spurlock on the line.

According to Mauro, the play of the line will be instrumental for the Indians to be successful.

At quarterback, Drew Black and Alex Fox are competing to replace Justin Whitlatch, a two-year starter who now playing at Wittenberg University.

Black saw some time last year at quarterback, mostly in the Wildcat formation, and likely will get the first opportunity because of his experience.

"Both (Black and Fox) have a lot of experience in this system, so that will help the transition a lot," Mauro said. "Drew's played a lot of different positions for us, so he's very versatile."

The leading receivers are Cody Ferguson and Courtland Williams, both returning starters.

The three running backs expected to get the majority of the carries are Sam Jones, Alex Pickens and Antonio Whitfield.

"We'll see what happens at running back," Mauro said. "Sam is a senior, and it's kind of been our M.O. to have a senior start at running back. But I really like the other guys as well."

The defense is more of a work-in-progress than the offense, as it has undergone changes in both personnel and scheme.

The Indians are running a four-man front as opposed to the three- and five-player fronts they utilized last year.

Deontaye Cosby, Jacob Estep and Jesse Osborne are inside linebackers, while Britain Coldren, Pickens, John Sharp, Zach Thomas and Williams are in the mix at outside linebacker.

David Hawkins, Quandale Littlefield, Jordan Lester and Elijah Roddy are battling for the two cornerback positions. Jones, a safety, is the only returning starter. Eric Banks and Brennen Moore are the top defensive linemen.

The changes don't stop there, as the Indians' home field had artificial turf installed this summer.

This could prove to be a big advantage in MSL-Buckeye play, as most of the other teams in the league have grass fields.

There are also changes to the non-league portion of the schedule because the Indians wanted to facer higher quality opponents to help them better prepare for the postseason.

St. Charles and Grove City - a pair of Division I schools - have been added to the schedule replacing Bexley and Jonathan Alder.

St. Charles was 5-5 last season, while Grove City reached the Division I playoffs two years ago but did not field a team last year because of South-Western City Schools' levy failure.

Last season, Canal Winchester defeated Bexley 43-0 and Jonathan Alder 49-14.

The Indians' other non-league game is against Westerville Central, another Division I program from the OCC.

The teams met for the first time last season, with Central prevailing 17-13.

"We're a solid D-II team," Mauro said. "I don't see us moving up to D-I or going back down to (Division) III anytime soon, so we really felt we needed to have a good non-league schedule to challenge ourselves."

The Indians are looking to capture a MSL-Buckeye title after a two-year drought. Amanda-Clearcreek and Logan Elm, the league champions from the last two seasons, appear to be strong again, however.

Other teams that could challenge for the title are Circleville and Fairfield Union, according to Mauro.

"We expect every year to win a league title," Jones said. "The last two years we've been one game away, so this year we expect win out and get the title back."