PHILIPPI?- Philip Barbour will look to end a five-game losing streak to Big 10 Conference rival Grafton at 7:30 p.m. today.
"Our goal is to go down to Grafton and take care of business," Colts coach Curtis Bodkins said. "The kids are motivated. Grafton has had our number for the past four or five years. I've heard it called a rival game, but it's not a rival game unless you beat them every once in a while. So we have a little chip on our shoulder."
Bodkins said his players have been working hard to prepare for the opening contest. This season, the Colts didn't do two-a-day practices at camp. Bodkins said he scrapped the idea in favor of extended practice sessions during the morning hours.
"I feel like I got more out of the boys by going a little longer," Bodkins said. "I think it kept them from holding back. They didn't have to worry about the afternoon practice."
Last season, the Colts lost during the closing seconds when Grafton kicked a field goal for the win. Philip Barbour hasn't beaten their long-time conference rivals since 2008.
The Colts will look to quarterback Dillon Newman (6-0, 170), along with running back Dylan Johnson (5-7. 200) and wide receiver Al Johnson (6-1, 170) to lead the offense.
"Newman has been working very hard in the weight room," Bodkins said. "He's put on some weight and hasn't lost any speed so I'm real excited to see what he can do."
Bodkins said another strength is depth across the offensive line. He said about 10 kids are competing for playing time.
"We have a good, solid line," Bodkins said. "There is a lot of competition for positions on the line, so that always makes you better. There have been some good battles."
Defensively, the Colts will utilize a 3-3 odd stack and a 4-4 formation.
Grafton will not only be celebrating the season opener but upgrades to McKinney Field as well. A new field turf and scoreboard are in place, along with a new coach - Drew Toth, who replaces Mark Yoho.
Toth inherits a team that went 2-8 last season and returns a senior-laden offensive line but youth at the other positions.