When Blanchester and Paint Valley square off Friday night in the first game of the 2022 season, the battle in the trenches will be interesting.
“Paint valley returns the majority of their offensive line,” Blanchester coach Jon Mulvihill said. “Their quarterback is back along with a running back and wide receiver from last year. They are a powerful offense and a stout defensive front. Their QB is their punter and he is very good at it.”
Blanchester lost last season’s lidlifter to Paint Valley 35-7 in Bainbridge.
Like the Wildcats, the Bearcats were 5-5 and made the post-season playoffs, losing 45-34 to Fairbanks in the opening round.
Blanchester was defeated by Mariemont 40-14 in the first post-season game.
Blanchester has 43 players on its roster, with 14 seniors and nine juniors. There are 10 sophomores and 10 freshmen on the team as well.
Mulvihill said the strength of his team was up front as well and, for the first time in his career, the Wildcats “should be completely healthy.”
He said, “That is a luxury I’ve never had going into a week 1 game.”
The Wildcats had a rough and somewhat perplexing scrimmage season.
The second scrimmage set for Greeneview High School was cancelled due to illness on the BHS squad.
“Nineteen of the 42 on the roster were sick,” he said. “So we missed out on some valuable live reps, which is again frustrating.”
The first scrimmage against Hillsboro started on a Saturday but was halted by storms, Mulvihill said.
“We were undisciplined on defense and lethargic on offense,” said the BHS coach.
When the scrimmage resumed two days later, “We were much better,” Mulvihill said. “Hillsboro runs the option so scrimmaging them without prep was quite frustrating for the defense.”
Other than the lack of reps for his team, one aspect of the game revealed to Mulvihill to be an issue is on the mental said.
“We must improve our attention to detail,” he said. “Whether it is reading our keys on defense, or stepping with the correct foot first on our blocks.”