Coach Bill Franks is taking the same approach this preseason as he did a year ago when the Newark Catholic High School football team was coming off a Division VI state championship.

Coach Bill Franks is taking the same approach this preseason as he did a year ago when the Newark Catholic High School football team was coming off a Division VI state championship.

This time, however, the Green Wave is trying to leave behind the fact that it failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1996. It posted a 6-4 record and finished 11th in Region 23, as the top eight advanced to the postseason.

It marked only the sixth time since the playoffs began in 1972 that the Green Wave failed to qualify, as it has made a state-record 30 appearances overall.

"It is what it is," said Franks, who is 64-26 entering his eighth season at Newark Catholic with a career record of 88-52.

The Green Wave remained in the playoff picture until the final week despite falling 17-14 at Bexley in the eighth game and 42-7 against Licking Valley in the ninth game. It eventually finished fifth (3-4) in the MSL-Ohio Division as the Panthers (7-0) topped the final standings again.

"Same as last year, every new year is a time to turn the page and keep moving forward," said Franks, whose team will play the same non-league schedule as last season with the opener Friday at Amanda-Clearcreek, where the 2007 drive to the state title began with a convincing 33-14 road victory.

"Every year you work as hard as you can work and try to produce a high-quality team. Nothing's changed."

Still, the Green Wave does look to be considerably improved on offense after averaging only seven points per game in last year's four losses and 18.7 overall.

Senior tailback Dean Moore (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) rushed for more than 500 yards and will now be the featured runner following the graduation of Aaron Shook, who made first-team all-district and rushed for 1,098 yards. Kevin Cox (6-3, 182) returns as a second-year starter at quarterback after throwing for more than 1,100 yards, and his top receivers include seniors Matt Dawson (6-0, 180) and Jake Nelson (5-10, 170). Tight end is a key position in the offense, and senior Nate Adams (6-2, 222) is back after lettering in 2007 before missing last season with an unspecified injury.

Up front, the offensive line has been retooled but does return three-year starting senior Clay Harris (6-3, 228) and senior right tackle Josh Hendershot (6-4, 245). Others to look for include senior Ted Oyler (6-1, 206) and junior Aaron Price (6-3, 211) at left guard and left tackle, respectively. Harris, who won a state discus title in the spring, is moving from left tackle to center.

The Green Wave graduated first-team all-district lineman Casey Cunningham in addition to second-team picks Lane Hartfield and Jake Patterson, but Hendershot has made a verbal commitment to play at Toledo and Harris also is a potential Division I collegiate recruit.

Defensively, Harris is moving from linebacker to the line. Hendershot also will play there as will junior Zack Shane (6-3, 212), Price, Adams and senior Phil Taylor (6-2, 215), among others. Franks will use numerous linebackers, including juniors Michael Lewis (6-3, 198) and Cory Murphy (5-11, 184), Adams, Taylor and sophomore Connor Shook (5-7, 174), who also is expected to be the fullback.

The secondary will have a deep rotation that includes Nelson, Dawson, senior James Moorman (5-11, 160), juniors Nick Kohl (5-10, 153), Jack Weisent (5-11, 163), C.J. McCreary (5-8,158) and Britt Wilder (5-8, 171) and sophomore Jimmy Lough (5-9, 175).

"We're a more mobile defense now," Franks said. "Our emphasis will be on not giving up the big play and fundamental tackling."

The Green Wave likely wore down a bit late a year ago, losing four of the final seven games following a 3-0 start. A 42-0 home setback against Granville in the MSL-Ohio opener ended a nine-game winning streak that dated to 2007. This year, the Green Wave closes with four consecutive Division III opponents, and a playoff berth might be hanging in the balance when it plays host to Granville in the Oct. 30 regular-season finale.

"We have to make every effort to play the game a little faster," Franks said. "We have to be more efficient (offensively) in the red zone, too, and of course a big thing is always playing four full quarters."