With seven new coaches, including new Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Chuck Lipsey, it might be asking a lot of the Bearcats to put together a better season than the 4-7 season they had a year ago. On offense, gone is last years quarterback, leading rusher, three of the top four receivers and five offensive linemen from the 2-deep. On defense, those same players played a majority of the snaps along the defensive line, linebacker corps and defensive backfield.
More key than the players lost, might be the players returning. Deaundre Manley returns at receiver after a breakout season a year ago. He will also anchor the backend of the defense at safety. Jace King and Divad Briones return for their fourth and third years on Varsity and their Senior leadership will be counted on to bring along the other younger linemen up to speed. Caleb Ornalez returns for his third Varsity season as well, but has been moved from running back to the offensive line in order to better utilize his size and quickness on the line.
Expect to hear the names of many players you might not have heard before. Leading the pack is Jayden Rivera. As a sophomore Jayden spent the entire preseason last year as the number one running back. A knee injury two days before the season opener derailed his season and sent the running back position into a tailspin that was eventually saved by the emergence of last year’s senior Reid Matschek. A new infusion of talent into the backfield will also consist of a 1-2 sophomore punch at running back in Cooper Bean and Cody Daily. The new quarterback is going to be one of senior Xavier Nunes, a Coleman transfer, or Jaedan Coy, who returns to the Bearcats after a year away from football. With all of the new pieces it will be worth watching to see how fast the Bearcats are able to make them into a working, well-oiled machine. When they do, Ballinger will become a force to be reckoned with, but how fast it happens will determine how good they can ultimately be.