Among the 18-member senior class for Hartley are sons of two of its assistant coaches.

That's just one example of the emotional bonds that members of the program will experience this fall, according to coach Brad Burchfield.

Another is that Burchfield sees a group of players and coaches who are on the same page as they pursue a 10th consecutive playoff appearance.

After going 11-2 and earning a runner-up regional finish in 2017 during its first season in Division III, Region 11, Hartley went 9-3 and reached a regional semifinal last fall.

When the members of the senior class were on the freshman team, they led every game from start to finish.

"This group has been together for a long time," Burchfield said. "We feel very close to this group. We've got high expectations. It's a group we've had since they were little, and the best compliment I can give is that they're incredible to coach, want to work and we have a lot of fun. They've been working for this."

Hartley won its second consecutive CCL championship last fall despite having juniors such as Miles Fleming, Jalan January, KiRon Anderson and Mason Sawyer fill leading roles.

That group -- combined with a sophomore class led by two-way starter Daniel Tooson and a junior group featuring standout athlete Marcelis Parker -- should give the Hawks the necessary pieces to continue a run that has seen them go 120-26 with 10 playoff appearances in 11 seasons under Burchfield.

Hartley has a schedule featuring five teams that made the playoffs, including a home game with Division I Gahanna on Sept. 13.

Also new to the schedule is a matchup Oct. 11 at Youngstown Austintown-Fitch, a Division I playoff qualifier last season that has moved down to Division II.

Wheelersburg, which plays host to Hartley on Sept. 6, was a Division V state semifinalist.

In addition, both St. Charles and Watterson more than doubled their win totals from 2017 last fall and the Hawks will get a chance to showcase their program with a Thursday game to close the regular season Oct. 31 at home against DeSales.

"We've got a lot of seniors coming back which will help lead the team," Anderson said. "The defense looks really good. I think we'll be all right this year."

OFFENSE

January finished with 1,488 yards and 20 touchdowns on 207 carries in his first extensive action at running back last fall.

Fleming committed to play for Minnesota as an athlete and returns at quarterback after being a part-time starter as a sophomore and the No. 1 signal caller a year ago. He completed 44 of 83 passes for 1,065 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed 78 times for 766 yards and five scores.

"This year I want to be more in tune with getting reads down and being a better leader," Fleming said.

Expected to join January in the backfield are Sawyer and Parker. Sawyer rushed for 563 yards and eight touchdowns on 95 carries, and Parker scored two touchdowns in limited action.

Among the biggest losses to graduation was Philip Cole, who rushed for 477 yards and seven touchdowns and had a team-high 24 catches for 622 yards and six scores.

This year's receiving corps should include senior Angelo Evans, who had 10 receptions last season but isn't expected to be available until midseason, as well as juniors Shawand Saunders and Kason Sunderland and sophomores Richard Kenny and Travhon Saunders.

On the line, seniors Dion Drake and Alex Michael and junior Jake Skelly will see time at tackle, with junior Sammy Ray at center and senior Kenyon Davis and junior Tony Thivener at guard.

DEFENSE

Tooson will start at tight end but should end up being one of the area's top recruits in the 2022 class on defense.

The 6-foot, 250-pounder had 29 tackles and three sacks last season and is expected to line up at end on a line that could rotate more than half a dozen players.

Sawyer (89 tackles) and Anderson (78 tackles) return at inside linebacker, and junior Sumo Kessley will join Parker at outside linebacker.

Jalan January is expected to be at free safety along with sophomore Travhon Saunders, with sophomore Nyal Johnson and Fleming also possible contributors.

Senior George Dunor and Sunderland should start at cornerback.

Evans also will see action in the secondary once he returns.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Although Burchfield has some concerns about the kicking game, he expects junior Ryan Hawk to replace 2019 graduate Matteo Agriesti.

Agriesti, a four-year starter who made seven field goals and 54 of 56 extra points a year ago, left as the program's all-time leader in kicking points.

Senior Luke Carney is taking over the punting duties for 2019 graduate Thomas Mayhan.

Sawyer has been the team's long snapper since his freshman season, and sophomore Will Heskett will be the holder.

Travhon Saunders is expected to be among the punt returners, with Kenny returning kickoffs and punts.

THE LINEUP

Offense

Quarterbacks: *Miles Fleming (sr., 6-0, 180), Bryce January (so., 5-10, 170), Jalan January (sr., 5-10, 190)

Running backs: *Jalan January, *Mason Sawyer (sr., 6-1, 210), KiRon Anderson (sr., 5-10, 212), Sumo Kessley (jr., 6-0, 210), Marcelis Parker (jr., 6-0, 210)

Receivers: *Richard Kenny (so., 5-9, 165), *Shawand Saunders (jr., 6-1, 165), Angelo Evans (sr., 5-10, 175), Travhon Saunders (so., 5-10, 175), Kason Sunderland (jr., 5-11, 180)

Tight end: *Daniel Tooson (so., 6-0, 250)

Linemen: *Kenyon Davis (sr., 6-1, 230), *Dion Drake (sr., 6-3, 265), *Sammy Ray (jr., 6-0, 225), *Jake Skelly (jr., 6-4, 260), *Tony Thivener (jr., 6-1, 210), Donald Allwein (sr., 5-11, 190), Thomas DeFoor (sr., 5-11, 200), Alex Michael (sr., 6-2, 250)

Defense

Linemen: *Tooson, James Crenshaw (jr., 5-10, 225), Davis, Drake, Owen Griffith (sr., 5-9, 210), Sam LeMay (jr., 6-1, 210), Michael, Austin Paulus (sr., 6-0, 225)

Linebackers: *Anderson, *Kessley, *Parker, *Sawyer, Allwein, Travis Bowie (jr., 6-3, 200)

Secondary: *George Dunor (sr., 6-1, 185), *Sunderland, Evans, Fleming, Jalan January, Nyal Johnson (so., 5-8, 175), Kenny, Shawand Saunders, Travhon Saunders (so., 5-10, 175)

Special teams

Kickers: *Ryan Hawk (jr., 5-8, 150), Sean Price (sr., 5-8, 150)

Punter: *Luke Carney (sr., 5-11, 160)

Returners: *Kenny, *Travhon Saunders

Long snapper: *Sawyer

(*Denotes projected starter)

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek