Asked what is the biggest strength of the Grandview Heights High School football team this season, there was little debate among the players.

Asked what is the biggest strength of the Grandview Heights High School football team this season, there was little debate among the players.

"Camaraderie," 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior linebacker Clay Teach said.

"I think team morale is up a lot this year," added 6-1, 185-pound sophomore quarterback Oliver Rouch.

Third-year coach Jason Peters echoed his players' sentiments.

"This is a pretty tight-knit group," he said. "They're real close. You go in the locker room between practices and everybody is sitting together. There aren't little cliques. And that's something we haven't seen in years prior."

Camaraderie and morale aren't the only reasons the Bobcats believe they could be a team on the rise. Peters said he's seen plenty of positive physical changes to go along with the psychological ones.

"The big difference this year is we've still got smart kids, but we're pretty athletic, too," Peters said. "That's a good combination. We're bigger, faster, stronger."

Grandview's progress since Peters' arrival has been slow but steady. In his first season in 2007, the Bobcats finished 3-7 overall, a one-game improvement over 2006 when they went 2-8. Last season, they finished 4-6.

The Bobcats also have improved in the MSL-Cardinal Division. They went 2-5 in the league in both 2006 and '07 but finished 3-4 last season. Liberty Union and West Jefferson shared the league title at 6-1.

Grandview, which opens Friday at home against Utica, is looking to make the Division V playoffs for the first time since 2005, but that task may be become more difficult. The Bobcats have moved from Region 19 to Region 20, which has added Coldwater, a Division IV regional finalist last season, and Mechanicsburg, a Division VI regional finalist last season. Among the other teams in Region 20 are West Jefferson and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, the region's top seed last season.

Grandview won't make any schematic changes this season, but Peters said the Bobcats will try to take more advantage of the Rouch's running ability. Rouch was a backup last season to graduate Jeff Shively, who was more of a drop-back passer.

Several players should see action at tailback, including senior Michael Crawford, junior Colin Ridgeway, sophomore Jason Franks and freshman Payton Jones. Crawford ran for 581 yards and seven touchdowns last season and made second-team all-league.

Teach is expected to see time at fullback, when the Bobcats use one. Seniors Tyler Fitzgerald, Michael LaMonte and Christian LeMaster, junior Alex Minnillo and freshman Luke Snider are vying for time at wide receiver.

Peters said he is expecting a big year from junior Dan Satterthwaite (6-1, 260), who will lead a relatively inexperienced offensive line. Sophomores Carter Jump and Will Heydinger both saw some action last season.

Teach returns at inside linebacker after making first-team all-league and second-team all-district last season. Junior Nate Webb also is expected to start at linebacker, and sophomore Ryan Schofield could see action on the line and at linebacker. The rest of the defensive line spots had yet to be set.

In the defensive backfield, Minnillo and junior Phillip Green-Poisson are expected to start at cornerback, but the safety spots were still up for grabs. Minnillo made second-team all-conference last season.

The Bobcats' top priority is winning the MSL-Cardinal title, and they believe getting off to a good start will help them accomplish that goal.

"I feel like we have to start out and win our three non-league games to get some momentum going," Teach said.

"We need to come out and play well early on," Peters said. "We need to get some momentum going and build some confidence, get these kids feeling good about themselves and what they're doing. We're in year three. At this point, our kids believe in what we're doing, they know what we're doing. We've got that good team. Now it's time to put it all together."