By Rob Kiser
Piqua football coach Bill Nees may not know exactly when — but he knows his Indians will open the season Friday night at Welcome Stadium.
Piqua plays Meadowdale in the second game of a doubleheader at Welcome Stadium — with the approximate start time set for 8 p.m.
Danville plays Ponitz at 5:30 p.m. in the opener.
“There are a couple unknowns going in.,” Nees said. “We don’t know a lot about their special teams and we don’t know what time the game is going to start because it is a second game of a doubleheader.”
What Nees does know is he always expects a challenge and Friday night will be no different.
A year ago, Piqua defeated Meadowdale 48-0 in a game that started on Friday night and finished on Saturday because of lightning.
Piqua finished 7-3, while Meadowdale finished 3-7.
Junior quarterback Elijah Carson (5-10, 172) is back for the Lions, while leading receivers Jonte Tinsley (5-10, 170, senior) and Taydren Carter (5-3, 115, junior) are back as well.
“They have all of their top guys back on offense at their disposal,” Nees said. “They have a different coaching staff and a little different look. Predominately, they show a lot of 2×2 and 3×1 and run a lot of jet sweeps and bootlegs.”
The Lions are less experienced on defense, where they will play a 4-4.
“Defensively, they have a lot of new guys,” Nees said. “They play an even front and like to put a lot off pressure on with their defensive line. They like to mix coverages and play man or zone.”
Piqua is a little in the dark on special teams.
“The one thing we didn’t see in their scrimmages was the return game,” Nees said. “The only special teams they did was punt.”
Piqua finished its scrimmage season with a win over Lima Senior and a 35-14 loss to Springboro last Friday.
“We feel really good about what we are doing,” Nees said. “We feel like we have made good progress.”
The Springboro score was a little deceiving because Piqua had three drives stopped on fourth down, two on fourth-and-two or less.
“The Springboro scrimmage was a great lesson of how momentum can swing in those situations,” Nees said. “The great thing about scrimmaging a team like Springboro is you can learn so much from watching the films.”
The Indians moved into the “start the season” phase this week.
“We have made a good transition with school starting this week,” Nees said. “We have had some really good practices.”
With some key parts returning on offense in senior quarterback Austin Davis, senior running back Ben Schmiesing and senior receiver Hayden Schrubb, Nees admits the offense may be ahead of the defense right now.
“Offensively, we are probably a little ahead of the defense right now,” he said. “The defense is always evolving. Because on defense you are reacting, where on offense you know what you are going to do.”
Nees said Piqua is healthy for the most part.
“We are in pretty good health,” he said. “We have had some people banged up that we have been patient with and are waiting until they are ready.”
Now it is time to get the 2017 season rolling.
“It is (good to get the season started),” Nees said. “We had a good summer. We had a good spring in the weight room, then we had good 7-on-7s and scrimmages. Now it is time to take the next step.”
No matter what time things get started Friday night.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.