With its preseason close to wrapping up, the DeSales High School football team still was figuring out who would be its starting quarterback while also working through battles for playing time on its offensive line.
What the Stallions don't have to worry about, according to senior Joey Velazquez, is the mentality they are taking into their opener against Dayton Dunbar at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at Huber Heights Wayne.
The last time the teams met was in 1999, with DeSales winning 34-0. The Stallions lead the all-time series 4-2.
"During the weight room (this offseason), we really got after it," Velazquez said. "In our scrimmages and in our 7-on-7s, we were playing fast. If you make a mistake, we're making an aggressive mistake. I feel like we're ready to get after it this year. It's exciting."
DeSales' opening opponent has had its share of issues to deal with. Dunbar qualified for the postseason for the eighth time in program history last fall, marking its first playoff appearance since 2010.
The Wolverines opened the Division III, Region 12 playoffs with a 28-27 win at Goshen before losing to eventual state champion Trotwood-Madison 64-26 in a regional semifinal to finish 8-4.
Despite that finish, Darran Powell did not have his contract renewed after leading the program to a 31-21 mark in five seasons. He was replaced by Corey Freed, a former assistant at two Texas schools, Waco and McGregor.
"They were an eight-win team last year," said Stallions coach Ryan Wiggins, whose team finished 6-4 last season. "I don't know their 2018 situation as well, but they're athletic and they've got a lineman who has been offered by everybody in the country. They've got tremendous skill and they're fast."
The player to whom Wiggins is referring is Jonathan Allen, a 6-foot-6, 315-pound senior who has received scholarship offers from a list of schools that includes Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.
Allen was named first-team all-Southwest District last year as an offensive tackle but also figures to see time as a defensive tackle.
Most of the Wolverines' key players from a year ago were lost to graduation. Another player on offense who gained experience last season was sophomore quarterback Gregory Packnett, while senior linebacker Jordan Cameron is the most experienced returnee on defense. Cameron also plays tight end.
Allen could match up with DeSales senior Rodas Johnson, a projected defensive tackle at the college level who has nearly 30 Division I scholarship offers.
Johnson figures to lead a defense that also returns seniors Carter Hilleary and Anthony Sciarroni in the secondary and Cole Potts on the line. Velazquez is a Michigan commit who projects as a linebacker in college and will play a key role in the middle of the Stallions' defense.
Offensively, Velazquez scored eight touchdowns as a complementary running back last year and figures to lead the Stallions' offense along with Hilleary, a wide receiver who had 18 receptions last season.
Senior Vince Thompson and junior Reno Godfrey were battling to start at quarterback.
"We have five returning starters on both offense and defense, so we're starting over in some ways, which has been a good thing," Wiggins said. "We lost three linebackers who had played a lot of football. The positive thing is you have competition and guys fighting for a job. It's not like we're thin, and our guys' attitudes have been great. ... Our guys are playing fast, playing hard and they're competing."