While much of the attention surrounding the Cavaliers this summer has been on the renovation of the Athletic Complex, Ron Hinton’s kids have been focusing on putting a good product on the synthetic playing surface.

Hinton says with all the commotion of bulldozers, trucks and other machinery constantly as back drop for practices, the Cavs have been forced to concentrate more closely to the instruction.

For the first time in his four seasons, Hinton has a full senior class. Gone are the three and four member classes. Sixteen of this year’s members got a lot of playing time as juniors last season. The Cavs return eight starters on each side of the ball, including signal caller Ryan Mathis.

The Cavs are also big up front with bookend Tackles Josh Leonard (6’ 300lbs) and Tyler Howard (6’ 283lbs). The two anchor an offensive line that returns starters Ryan Milliken, Luke Johnson and Austin Mathis.  They pave the way for running backs Julius Lee, Daiquan Hall and Nate Rosenbauer. Running back has the greatest depth on the chart. Carl Harris, Jr. is nursing a shoulder injury and two other players, Isaiah Johnson and last season’s leading rusher Markel Cain will miss the first two games. The least experienced group is at receiver. Eddy Wells, Steve Bayless, Austin Elliott and Michael Beard will play on the edges and only tight end Christian Collins has had experience in the position. Devin Zehner and Jalen Mischal will share time on the end.

Helping build confidence is seeing the growth of Hinton’s team. “Our program is evolving, it’s is coming” Hinton said on his daily radio show. “We’re really pleased with how hard the kids worked this winter. We felt we grew not only physically, but mentally and emotionally more into mature young men.”

The Cavs are more aggressive and physical defensively, “…we think we’re solid. Now we just need a win to help build confidence”.

Coach Hinton smiles when he speaks of inside linebackers Tyler Kelley and Devin Zehner. On the outside, Caylib Holt and Julius Lee return. The line will be mastered by the guys who also play up front on offensive line. The secondary will boast returning lettermen Steve Bayless, Michael Beard and Ryan Mathis with Caleb Price being the newest face.

The construction has also played havoc with the Cavs kicking game. Returning placekickers Jacob Weber and Jason Johansen didn’t have goal posts to practice on. The North end zone goal post was just installed Tuesday and the South end zone was being finished up late in the week. The goal for the practice field faced the footers which were dug for the home side grandstands. Any kicks found their way into the construction site. The first true work came
in the scrimmages at Wheelersburg and London.

The Cavs will line up against Johnstown-Monroe Friday night. The Johnnies were a Regional Champion last season and graduated more than 20 members of a team that was 10-3. However, Coach Mike Carter has had his program in the playoffs year in and out.

Coverage of the Cavs and Johnnies will begin around 7:05pm on WBEX (1490am & 92.7fm) in addition to wbex.com and iheartradio.