In five short seasons, Mike Marshall has turned the Buckeye Valley football team into a powerhouse in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

In five short seasons, Mike Marshall has turned the Buckeye Valley football team into a powerhouse in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

Marshall and his staff became the most successful group in school history, compiling a 31-19 record with the Barons. Last season, Buckeye Valley won the MOAC-Red with a 7-2 mark. Marshall, who is starting his 24th year as a head coach, credited the players for the success at Buckeye Valley.

"The kids in the Buckeye Valley community are extremely hard working, and there is tremendous amount of support with the families," said Marshall, whose team finished 7-3 overall. "The kids come to practice ready to work. They want to succeed. They want to win, and we've been fortunate to have these kids and their work ethic, which has paid off dividends."

The Barons' three losses last season came against non-league Delaware (17-14) and league foes Pleasant (35-22) and Cardington (28-21).

Gone from that squad are all-MOAC tackle Cory Willis, defensive end Chris Halmbacher, corner back/defensive back Alex McCurdy, linebacker/fullback Scott Kidwell, tight end Steve Firkins and receiver Matt Free.

The leading returnees are center Grant Georgic (6-foot-1, 250 pounds), running back Cody Hughes and four-year starting quarterback Erik Wall. Georgic and Hughes were first-team all-MOAC, and Wall was second-team.

Wall (6-6, 220) completed 73 of 137 passes for 1,384 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed 28 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns. Hughes (5-10, 175) rushed for 1,049 yards and nine touchdowns.

"Eric has a strong arm," Marshall said. "We're going to try to get him on the edge where he has the option to pass or throw."

Other starters returning on offense include guards Scott Miller (6-1, 220), Zach Adams (6-0, 250), tackle Chris Wilcox (6-0, 275) and receiver Guy Reeb (6-2, 175), who caught five passes for 85 yards last season.

The defense lost three starters in the secondary and two linebackers, but Marshall said several returnees saw varsity time at those spots.

"We were fortunate last year to get up on some people, and we were able to get lots of kids varsity playing experience. So while we graduated a lot of starters, we have a lot of kids coming back. We're not totally rebuilding back there."

Defensive returnees include linebackers Joel Myers (6-1, 180) and Marcus Caplin (5-10, 190), tackle Grant Georgic (6-1, 250), ends Luke Bauserman (6-4, 230) and Hunter Lover (6-4, 235, all-MOAC), lineman Eric Pettit (6-4, 220) and cornerbacks Travis Gillespie (6-0, 150) and Mitchell Sansom (5-9, 160).

Myers led the team with 74 tackles, including seven for loss, a sack and one fumble recovery. Lover had 44 tackles, including 15 for loss and six sacks.

Hughes returns as the punter after averaging 32.4 yards and pinning opponents inside their own 20 six times. Alex Marstiller (5-11, 165), who also plays soccer, will be the kicker, taking over for Evan Deffet, who had 29 extra points and a field goal.

After the opener at Delaware, the Barons move right into MOAC competition. Marshall sees the Red Division as a three-team race, while Pleasant again appears to be the favorite in the Blue Division.

"In the Blue Division, someone has to beat Pleasant, because they've won it so many times," Marshall said. "In the Red Division, it's really balanced. Elgin is going to be improved. Last year in the division, it was Highland, North Union and we were lucky enough to win it. I think we'll be the top three teams again this year."