NEWCOMERSTOWN — After taking over as the head coach a week into last season, Tim Davis will get his first full season at the helm of the Newcomerstown High boys’ basketball team.
The Trojans went 1-22 under Davis last season and numbers may be an issue this year.
"Last year, I stepped in at the last minute," he related. "I took over like seven days into practice, so we were kind of behind the eight-ball from the get-go. This year, I have had five guys who have been working through the summer and playing fall ball.
"The down side is that our numbers are just too low," he continued. "We only have 13 kids and four of them have never played basketball before. We are going to dress everybody varsity and, barring any injuries, we should have enough for a junior varsity team."
The Orange and Black will be without three key players from last season including Levi Kilpatrick and Chase Arnold who graduated as well as Jacob Robinson, who transferred.
Kilpatrick was named honorable mention all-East District, all-IVC and all-District 5 last winter.
"We lost some guys in the off-season," Davis said, "but we have some young guys who look very promising."
Due to the lack of players, Coach Davis will have to be careful on how fast-paced his team plays.
"We don’t have the depth to run a fast-paced offense like I would like to," he offered. "We aren’t going to be able to us a lot of pressure defense or pushing the ball up the floor I don’t think. Some of our kids will be playing varsity and junior varsity, so I just can’t go too much up-tempo.
"The offense is going to be a lot of what I want to do," he added. "We will run both a zone and ‘man’ defense, but it’s going to be more my technique than last year."
Looking to lead the way for the Trojans this season will be four returning lettermen — senior J’marea Sterns, junior Alex Porcher and sophomores Cayden Wilken and Roston Miller.
Sterns earned honorable mention all-East District Division IV last season.
"J’marea is 6-4 and a really strong offensive player inside and outside," said Davis. "Alex is a junior who has been working his butt off and I expect a lot out of him.
"Cayden played some valuable minutes last year and hit some three-pointers," he continued. "He is only a sophomore and his upside is really high. Roston is 6-7 and will be a factor for us as well."
Rounding out the Newcomerstown roster are seniors Cordell Cantley and Keilan Patterson; juniors Jayson Cole and Presten Campbell; sophomore Bryce Glazer and freshmen Felik Fowler, Braxon Wilson, Skylor Pritchard and Austin Lambes.
"Cordell and Keilan are both pretty new to this," Davis stated, "but they work really hard and are picking up really fast.
"We have a really great group of kids," he continued. "I really like the kids that I have and we just have to keep working and continuing to get better."
Coach Davis is very confident this team will be much more successful than last year’s squad.
"Our goal is to compete in every game," he said. "This team will definitely win more games than last year...there is no doubt in my mind. I don’t think the league is as strong as it was last year, but of course there is still is Hiland, Garaway, Indian Valley and Ridgewood to name a few and they just keep replenishing year-in and year-out. They might be a struggle for us, but our goal is to compete in every game."
Davis wants his team to get out of a rut that has lasted several years at NHS.
"I just want everyone to keep working hard and getting better," he concluded. "Once you lose a few, it’s easy to get in a rut and that is hard to get out of. It’s been a year-after-year thing here, so we have to change the mentality of the kids. This year we aren’t just hoping to win, we are expecting to win."
The Trojans tip off the 2018-19 season tonight at Caldwell and won’t play their first home game until Tuesday, Dec. 11 against Claymont.