Tucker County enters summer conditioning drills looking to replace a number of key contributors from last year's squad, which advanced to the Class A semifinals
Among the graduation losses are dual threat quarterback Derek Nestor, top receivers Tyler Snyder and Nathaniel Goldstein, and defensive stalwarts Michael Adkins and Cory DiBartolomeo.
The Mountain Lions finished the 2012 regular season with a 10-0 mark and No. 1 ranking, defeating Moorefield and Clay-Battelle in the playoffs before falling to Madonna.
The Inter-Mountain file photo
Tucker County’s Zach Armstrong finds yardage during last year’s playoff win over Moorefield. Armstrong is among a number of players expected to return for the Mountain Lions in the fall.
Thirty players reported for summer drills and head coach A.J. Rapp expects that number to increase once fall preseason camp gets underway in August.
"There are families on vacation, so we'll probably have between 35 to 40 players report come August," Rapp said.
Austin Zirk, last year's leading rusher, and Chase Alkire are expected to battle for the quarterback spot in the fall. Whoever wins the competition will be handing off to a bevy of returning and talented running backs.
"The kids opened practice with a great attitude coming off one of the best seasons we've had," Rapp said. "It's a good returning group that knows what it takes to be a number one team and make the playoffs."
Tucker County will open the regular season Aug. 30 at Pocahontas County.
Tygarts Valley, meanwhile, also has started summer drills.
The Bulldogs ended the 2012 campaign with only a single victory and coach Joseph Arbogast is hoping to improve the win total during the upcoming season.
The Bulldogs will be led offensively by quarterback Owen Arbogast and running back P.J. Lanham. They will have to operate behind an offensive line that lost four seniors to graduation.
Tygarts Valley will host Pendleton County on Aug. 30 to begin the season.