The newness might have worn off, but the feelings of anticipation for the Buttermore family and those in the Granville program since they began teaming up a year ago likely haven't.

Following the addition of Justin Buttermore as coach and Bo Buttermore on defense, the Blue Aces won a playoff game for the first time when they beat Jackson 38-7 in the opening round of the Division III, Region 11 postseason.

Granville accomplished another pair of rare feats when it beat long-time power Licking Valley 38-14 and a week later wrapped up the LCL-Buckeye championship at 4-0 with a 33-7 victory over Watkins Memorial on its way to a 10-2 finish.

Foundational players such as Bo Buttermore and fellow seniors Mitch Kunar and Mitch Walsh have returned, but numerous spots will be manned by players in leading roles for the first time -- including at quarterback.

The Aces must replace four starters on the offensive line and their entire kicking game while calling on sophomores such as Doak Buttermore, another of Justin's sons, to fill key spots for the first time.

"There's definitely a lot of excitement," Kunar said. "We feel like there are big shoes to fill, but we're confident we can get the job done."

After posting nine-win seasons in 2011 and 2012 and going 8-3 in 2017, Granville's only regular-season loss last fall was 28-21 to Northland in week three. The Blue Aces beat eventual Division V state runner-up Johnstown 21-14 on their way to earning the second seed in the region.

Adding strength to the schedule are Bellville Clear Fork (Sept. 6), which went 12-1 and was a Division IV regional runner-up last season, and Eastmoor (Sept. 13), which finished 12-2 and was a Division III state semifinalist.

Johnstown also remains on the schedule (Sept. 20).

"We graduated a lot of seniors," coach Buttermore said. "We have to grow up in a hurry because we know the first four weeks will be a challenge. With young teams you have to continue to improve throughout the season and I want us to be peaking as the season progresses."

OFFENSE

Defense is Bo Buttermore's first love, but he also could end up at quarterback.

He describes himself as "a physical runner (who) makes the right reads and plays."

Junior Blake Rine and sophomore Carson Crouch, who is the younger brother of four-year starter Cameron Crouch, could end up seeing time at the position as well.

While Bo Buttermore rushed for 224 yards in a part-time role at running back last season, Cameron Crouch completed 137 of 234 passes for 1,930 yards with 23 touchdowns and 2019 graduate Keegan VanMeter rushed for 935 yards and 12 touchdowns. Cameron Crouch is now playing for Olivet Nazarene.

Walsh and senior Dominic Varrasso should lead the receiving corps. Walsh had 39 receptions for 570 yards and six touchdowns, and Varrasso had 34 catches for 592 yards and nine scores.

They should be joined in a deep wide receiver corps by a group that includes senior Andy Hoben and junior Keyshawn Bonner.

Granville plans to primarily use a one-back set, with Doak Buttermore, senior Trevor Crumley and sophomore Devon Haley all as options at running back.

The only returning starter on the line is senior Daniel Purdy, who should line up at guard.

Senior Derick Bellofatto gained experience last season as well.

DEFENSE

Coach Buttermore has emphasized improving his team's defense, which is built around Kunar at linebacker and Bo Buttermore at free safety.

Bo finished with 49 tackles, four interceptions and five fumble recoveries last season and Kunar was among the team's leading tacklers.

Walsh also was a key contributor in the secondary and is expected to be joined at cornerback by Bonner, with senior Jimmy Fisher and Varrasso also seeing action in that role.

Hoben and sophomore Caden McDermott are at strong safety.

Bellofatto and sophomore Kam Wright are at nose guard, with Purdy and sophomore Colin Sheehan at tackle and senior Nathan Andrews and junior Luke Holmberg at end.

Kunar and senior Ethan Ramsey are among those at the team's hybrid end-linebacker position.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The biggest loss on special teams was Craig Zies, who averaged 43.8 yards per punt and made four field goals.

Rine could end up being the punter, with first-year senior Nate Garman at kicker.

Walsh is the most experienced returner after fielding nine punts and seven kickoffs last season.

Varrasso also should take on a key role in the return game.

THE LINEUP

Offense

Quarterbacks: *Bo Buttermore (sr., 5-8, 170), Carsyn Crouch (so., 5-11, 182), Blake Rine (jr., 6-1, 174)

Running backs: *Trevor Crumley (sr., 5-8, 170), Doak Buttermore (so., 5-8, 170), Devon Haley (so., 5-7, 157)

Receivers: *Keyshawn Bonner (jr., 5-10, 163), *Andy Hoben (sr., 5-10, 170), *Dominic Varrasso (sr., 5-10, 155), *Zach Walsh (sr., 5-11, 157), Brody Bitters (sr., 6-3, 175), Jimmy Fisher (sr., 5-9, 145), Zak Taylor (sr., 5-8, 165)

Tight end: Carter Brock (so., 6-1, 186), Ethan Ramsey (sr., 6-4, 170)

H-backs: Cooper Brock (sr., 5-9, 150), Mitch Kunar (sr., 5-10, 195)

Linemen: *Derick Bellofatto (sr., 5-9, 270), *Daniel Purdy (sr., 5-9, 195), Michael Donelan (jr., 6-2, 190), Mason Liberti (so., 5-10, 220), Ben Penn (sr., 6-4, 275), Justin Reid (so., 5-9, 150), Collin Sheehan (so., 5-10, 236), Bobby Vahalik (so., 5-10, 190), Joe Welsh (sr., 6-2, 205), Kam Wright (so., 6-2, 250) Defense

Linemen: *Nathan Andrews (sr., 5-7, 160), *Luke Holmberg (jr., 5-10, 185), *Purdy, *Sheehan, Bellofatto, Wright

Linebackers: *Braden Atchison (jr., 5-9, 163), *Carter Brock, *Kunar, Cooper Brock, Doak Buttermore, Crumley, Ramsey, Taylor, Vahalik

Secondary: *Bonner, *Bo Buttermore, *Walsh, Fisher, Christian Hilton (so., 5-11, 182), Hoben, Caden McDermott (so., 5-7, 156), Rine, Varrasso

Special teams

Kicker: Nate Garman (sr., 5-9, 145)

Punter: *Rine

Returners: *Bonner, *Varrasso, *Walsh

Long snapper: *Atchison

(*Denotes projected starter)

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek