For the Newcomerstown wrestling team, the upcoming season is full of promise after they went 6-4 a year ago, finished fourth in the Inter-Valley Conference Tournament and sent one wrestler to the OHSAA Division III State Tournament.
The Trojans lost seven seniors to graduation, including Kyle Pritchard, Jarred Weaver, Austin Stringer, Hunter Stringer, Darnell Crider-Harris, Jbril Dansby and Tyler Russell.
Pritchard was runner-up at the IVC and in the sectional at 160 pounds; Austin Stringer took the top spot at the IVC in the 138-pound weight class; Weaver was second in the 160-pound weight division; Dansby finished second at 195; and Dustin Stringer garnered fourth place in the 220-pound division.
Pritchard and Hunter Stringer went on to claim runner-up finishes at the sectional; Weaver placed third and Crider-Harris and Dansby were both fourth, with all five gaining D-III Distict berths.
From there, Pritchard placed fourth in the district to punch his ticket to the state tournament where he dropped two matches to finish the year with a 30-8 record.
Fourth-year head coach Jericoe Jones is anticipating a strong year from his senior captain and three-time letterman Dylan Little (138).
Little finished third at the sectional to gain a district berth last year and is he's expected to take it to that level or beyond this time around.
"Little is a three-time district qualifier and is our senior captain," Jones stated. "He is looking to go a little farther this year and make it to the state tourney.
"He hit the weight room hard in the offseason," Jones continued. "He put on 15 to 20 pounds of muscle and we are excited about that."
Another grappler that Jones is putting faith into is junior two-year letterman Dale Lyons (285).
"Lyons has been wrestling in the heavyweight class since his freshman year," Jones noted. "I believe that it is his year to shine.
"I expect him to be a two-time state qualifier," Jones offered. "He could possibly even be a state placer."
Lyons turned in a fourth-place finish at the IVC tournament last year for the Trojans.
Another solid returnee is sophomore letterman Anthony Sanders (132), who came in fourth place in the 113-pound weight class at the IVC and was a district alternate after finishing in fifth at the sectional.
The second senior captain to provide leadership to this upcoming team is Jason Garland (160), who is a returning letterman.
Garland, who is only in his second year of wrestling, delivered a fourth-place performance in the IVC last winter.
The final returning letterman for the Trojans is sophomore Austin McMullen (195), who looks to build off a strong freshman year.
Senior Chuck Dalton will compete at 180 pounds while other juniors are Michael Elliott and Matt Dalton.
Rounding out the sophomore class for NHS is Cameron Poland, who is geared up to battle in the 145-pound weight class.
Three incoming freshmen who look to get their high school careers under way are Reno Hupp (113), Logan Harbold (120) and Ganon Baker (126).
"Baker got his junior high experience on the mat and looks to do big things for the program," Jones noted. "Look for Ganon to possibly get to a district tournament this year and maybe even pull off a state appearance."
The NHS head coach believes that if the underclassmen can deliver for the team, it can put them over the top and right where they want to be.
"We have a young team this year," Jones offered. "If we can get this young group to step up and we should be able to compete with anybody that we wrestle.
Our goal this year is to get to Columbus," Jones added. "If we can focus on accomplishing that goal, then everything else will fall into place."
Taking a look at the IVC, Jones believes that Ridgewood is going to be the team to beat with Garaway right there as well.
"Ridgewood has to be the team to look at," Jones shared. "We thought they would take it last year, but Garaway beat them in the IVC and we only lost to GHS by one point in a home dual.
"I still think Ridgewood will stand out," Jones predicted, "but Garaway will have something for them."
The Newcomerstown coaching staff consists of Brian Little, Alan Hayhurst and Willy Weaver.
The Trojans see their first action on Dec. 11 at Smithville.