By Jesse Swafford
A Bulls-eye is defined as the central mark of a target. You may notice one on the backs of the Piqua football team this season as the Indians will look to return to their dominating ways of yesteryear.
A few changes have been made to the schedule this season. Gone from a year ago are Fairmont, Springboro and Centerville. The Indians will have to be road warriors with the amount of traveling they will be forced to do when playing away from the friendly confines of Alexander Stadium.
Grove City will play host to the Indians to kick the season off for the sixth consecutive season. During the previous five meetings, the Dawgs hold a 3-2 advantage.
Greenville, whom Piqua hasn‚t played since a 27-7 victory in 2004, is back on the schedule. The Indians will be looking to ride the Green Wave to victory at Harmon Field.
Piqua and Miamisburg haven‚t met since an Indians victory in 2000 and you can bet the Tribe will be looking for more of the same results against the Vikings.
Vandalia-Butler is expected to bounce back from last year‚s 1-9 campaign and the Indians will be looking to shut down the Aviators as Piqua looks for it‚s third consecutive victory between the two teams.
The Northmont Thunderbolts are expected to once again be in position for a league title when Piqua visits them for a week 10 showdown on their new FieldTurf playing surface. The Indians will be seeking revenge after last year‚s defeat at the hands of the Bolts.
Xenia (9/1), Springfield North (9/8), Trotwood-Madison (9/29), Sidney (10/13), and Troy (10/20) will all venture into Alexander Stadium in an attempt to steal a victory from the Tribe in their own backyard.
Troy will be attempting to even the series after Piqua blocked a Trojan field goal to preserve a 13-12 victory and gain a 58-57-6 lead in the all-time series last year.
The Tribe returns an abundance of talent on offense led by Ohio State verbal Brandon Saine at running back. Joining Saine on the offensive side of the ball will be quarterback Justin Hemm who delighted fans last year with a sensational sophomore effort. Pre-Season All-Ohio selection Ben Davis will be one of four returning offensive linemen to help protect Saine and Hemm.
"Returning four of five offensive linemen will be big for us," Hemm said. "With defenses keying on Brandon so much, it should open things up for other guys to step up."
The defense will once again be solid as they will be the backbone of the Indian Nation. Dusty Snyder, Jafe Pitcock and Dominic Allen all return to the dominating defensive line. Pete and David Rolf will patrol the field from their linebacker positions while Bryant Fox and Phil Collier will lead the secondary.
"We know what the expectations are," Fox said. "But, we just have to come out and play our game and focus on the task at hand. Coach Nees does a great job of having us prepared for everything that may come our way."
Being a target is nothing new for Piqua. It was a regular occurrence throughout the 1990s and early 2000s but hasn‚t been around since the 2001 season. The pieces appear to be in place for the Indians to regain that swagger and once again become the dominating force that is Piqua football.
Despite having all eyes on their every move, the Indians are focused and are primed for a trip to the playoffs in 2006. It won‚t be easy though as there are ten opponents waiting for their chance to hit the target.