Blanchester finished 5-4 during the regular season in 2021, missing a 10th game because Woodward was cancelled.

In the playoffs, the Wildcats lost to Mariemont 40-14.

That bitter defeat ended a tough season for Jon Mulvihill’s squad. They lost the first three games by a combined 117 to 20, won three straight easily, lost to Bethel-Tate 41-14 and then won two games by scoring 103 points.

Mulvihill will be assisted this season by John Lovin, Brandon Scott, Todd Kish, Jed Turpin and Tomas Oldham.

Several all-league players last season graduated, including Nate Coyle, Adam Frump, Zane Panetta, Kennedy Campbell, Gabe McVey and Jacob Lanham. Dameon Williams also transferred to East Clinton.

The BHS coach said there are 14 players returning to this year’s roster, led by a strong group of linemen.

“The strength of our team, no doubt, is our line,” Mulvihill said. “We did graduate a lot there but the guys who return have a lot of varsity experience. Every starting lineman we have is a senior and the first two backups are seniors.”

Other top returnees are Michael Mulvihill, Bryce Sipple, Dustin Trace, Carson Curless, Dylan Short, Chasen Allison, Cody Kidd, Ty Goodwin, Kyle Garrett, Gabe Staehling, Zach Musselman, Dylan Creager and Wyatt Oberle.

Newcomers to note, the coach said, are Chase Barnes, Casey Shank, Ray Montgomery, Tristan Malone and Seth Perkins.

Mulvihill said his squad must “get better at details, little things” in order to improve in 2022.

While Williamsburg is the team to beat in the National Division, Mulvihill said, by that point in the season each game will be a challenge. Mulvihill said the BHS non-conference schedule is strong with Paint Valley and Waynesville again providing early season opposition.

“Our goal is to win league, first and foremost,” he said. “It’s a possibility to go undefeated in the regular season, host a playoff game or two. This season should be a good one for us. We’ve talked about it all season. We’ve had 20 kids or more at Strength Lab since January, following Clinton-Massie’s footsteps, looking to train at a different level.

“We’re going to take it one game at a time. If we fall short early in the season, we can still meet our goals. I’m confident whatever happens in the regular season we can make the playoffs.”