VAN – There have two major concerns for Van High School athletic officials the past few seasons. First and foremost, high school consolidation in the state has curtailed the number of potential Single A opponents to the point that the Bulldogs could have earned points in a frequent traveler program. Secondly, the number of student/athletes at Van has sometimes been extremely low.
Football seasons, in particular, have been in jeopardy because there have not been sufficient numbers of players to field squads. It has been a perennial problem.
But not in 2014. And the travel concerns have been helped somewhat by visiting teams from another state.
Van Head Coach Steve Price could hardly contain his enthusiasm when talking about the number of players vying for playing time. “We’ve got 25 boys out,” he said. “Twenty-five. That’s phenomenal for Van football. I’m just thrilled.
And Price said many of his players “have some talent. They’re not just filling uniforms; these boys can play.”
Does that mean a return to the heyday of Bulldog success?
Price is making no predictions. “Nobody would like to see that any more than I would,” he said.
Returning assistants include veteran Eddie Hendricks, Eric Skolny, Ron Deal and Mark Agosti.
Price said he is also pleased that the school has been able to schedule two visits to Boone County by Ohio teams.
“We were on the road over and over,” he said. “At least, this time some of the travel has been cut out for us.”
Van actually starts the regular season with two consecutive home games, so no travel is involved at all. “That might give us a chance to get out feet firmly on the ground,” Price said of the comforts of home.
Meadow Bridge comes calling on August 29 to kick off the regular season. Then, on September 5, Fort Frye of Ohio is the opponent. Those two games will give Bulldog fans an “opportunity to see what we’re made of,” said Price. “We hope lots of people turn out to cheer us on. These boys have proven they’re committed and we want to have the entire community behind us.”
The traveling team finally hits the road September 12 for the not-too-long trip to Tug Valley, a perennial powerhouse. “If we don’t know what we’re made of by then,” said Price, “we’ll find out that night.”
The following week the team from Frontier (Ohio) High School makes a visit to Boone County. A team closer home, Midland Trail, follows.
Then, on October 3, Richwood from Nicholas County returns their long visit from last year when the Dogs drove all the way to their isolated campus.
Building on the Class A county rivalry with Sherman, Van will travel to Seth on October 10. It’s always a classic match-up between the highly-competitive county squads and Price expects no less in 2014.
“The Sherman game is always a big one for us,” he said. “And it’s big for them too. There are some bragging rights but mostly it’s just a good opportunity to showcase the talent from two different areas of the county. The players enjoy it’ so do the coaches; and the fans are always ready to go.”
While the Sherman-Van game provides “bragging rights,” a contest scheduled so late in the season may also impact playoff hopes for either team. “That’s always the goal,” Price said. “We want to make the playoffs; they want to make the playoffs.”
Montcalm visits Van on October 17, providing yet another opportunity for Bulldog fans to see their boys in action.
On October 24, Clay-Batelle makes the long trip to Boone County for another showdown with the Bulldogs. Then, on November 7, the always-tough Man Hillbillies come calling. Often a serious playoff contender, Price said Man Head Coach Harvey Arms “will be ready and his team will be ready. They always have been; they always are.”
Price hopes to end the year on a positive note after starting with so much excitement. When a reporter commented that he (the reporter) would predict a 10-0 season and Class A championship, Price acknowledged, “that would be great but you’d better let us play the Meadow Bridge game first.”