With 34 seniors, the most ever for the Dublin Scioto High School football program, some might look at the Irish as one of the more veteran programs in central Ohio.

With 34 seniors, the most ever for the Dublin Scioto High School football program, some might look at the Irish as one of the more veteran programs in central Ohio.

But coach Karl Johnson isn't about to start talking playoffs or an OCC Cardinal-Division championship. There seemed to be a "one game at a time" attitude during the preseason.

"We've got kids who lettered as juniors," he said. "But we've got a whole bunch of seniors who played special teams and junior varsity last year. They need to step up now and be Friday-night guys."

The Irish last reached the postseason in 2005 when they lost to Louisville in a Division II regional semifinal and their most recent league title came in 2003.

Despite a 1-4 start last year, Scioto rallied with a four-game winning streak before falling to Marysville 13-10 in a game that could've given the Irish a share of the OCC-Cardinal championship and a berth in the playoffs.

Scioto finished a 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the league to tie Marysville and Olentangy behind champions Olentangy Liberty, Dublin Jerome and Westerville South, who all went 5-2 in OCC play

Four of the five Scioto losses were by a touchdown or less.

"We were definitely competitive, but we just couldn't win the close games," senior linebacker Alex Gordon said. "We've got to finish this year. We've got a lot of talented people and I think that's really going to help keep us strong for four quarters."

There's enough depth that Johnson doesn't expect to have any two-way players.

After parting ways with three Division I recruits in running back/defensive back Bradley McDougald (Kansas State), lineman Tyler Harrell (Iowa) and receiver/defensive back Ayodeji Olatoye (Colorado), Scioto returns four starters on offense and five on defense.

"We've shifted some guys around from offense to defense and we think, with our large senior class, that allows guys to learn a single position," Johnson said. "Our defense has been flying to the ball and with nobody going both ways, that can go a long way."

Back in charge of the offense is senior quarterback Charlie Suich, who completed 101 of 177 passes for 1,127 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The honorable mention all-league selection also finished as the team's leading rusher with 476 yards and five touchdowns on 144 carries.

Johnson has never doubted Suich's strong arm and ability to run, but he expects better decision-making from the senior this season.

"He's got a year under his belt and he's making choices this year that he wouldn't have made a year ago," Johnson said. "He needs to be a guy who can put us in position to win."

Suich will be protected up front by returning senior starters Chris Latimer (6-foot-2, 254 pounds) and Tyler Tanner (6-3, 310) and senior Tyler Stevens (6-0, 232).

Seniors Michael Shibko, Zach Kivior and Matt Martin, who lettered at defensive back last season, and junior Chris Vogel are expected to be Suich's choices at receiver.

Scioto's rushing attack will be led by returning starter Clay Strawser. Senior David McLemore and junior Jordan Emerson also will be counted on to carry the ball.

Defensively, Gordon and senior end Grant Pleasant (6-3, 230) return as leaders of a group that allowed nearly 18 points per game.

Other starters back are seniors Francesco Felice (DE), Spencer Grummel (LB) and Stacey Blunt (DB).

"We want to fly to the ball with everybody getting around the ball on every single play," said Pleasant, a three-year letterwinner. "We've just got to keep working hard. We've just got to come into the season with a great attitude and keep our heads up and keep moving."

Scioto was scheduled to open against Grove City, but with the failure of the South-Western schools levy, it will open at Pickerington North.

Seven of Scioto's opponents last season reached the postseason.