(Malvern) -- A new-look East Mills offense will get its first chance to work out some kinks Friday night when they face Lenox on the KMAX-Stream.
While the Wolverines are excited about the 2020 season, Co-Coach Kevin Schafer admits there is some anxiousness, too.
"We're definitely excited, but also a little nervous," Schafer said. "There's definitely some things we need to clean up."
The Wolverines posted a 7-3 record last season and qualified for the playoffs. However, the leading passer -- Michael Schafer -- and leading receiver -- Nic Duysen -- have since graduated.
East Mills typically has one of the most potent passing attacks in all of 8-man, but the quarterback situation for the Wolverines isn't quite as clear this year. Coach Schafer hints that Jackson Wray could see time at quarterback after playing running back last season. Wray rushed for 344 yards and nine scores.
"Whether he plays quarterback or running back, he is definitely the leader of our team," Schafer said. "He's not a big talker. He leads by example and he's been doing that since his sophomore year."
Mason Crouse, Davis McGrew, Ryan Stortenbecker, Nolan Smiley and Brody Gordon are also expected to be playmakers for the Wolverines in some capacity.
While East Mills is accustomed to throwing the pigskin all over the place, they feel their run game is a must this season.
"We're going to have to run the ball better than we have in the past," Schafer said. "I don't think we can just throw the ball 40 times a game and be successful this year. We are not going to be a Fremont-Mills where we just dictate the game by overpowering teams, but we need to be a balanced team to have more success. We need better line play and we need our ends to block better."
Defensively, Schafer feels confident with what Co-Coach Claude Lang has at his disposal.
"I think we should be pretty good defensively," he said. "We just have to make sure we don't give up big plays and capitalize on mistakes. I think on that end of the ball, we could be better than we were last year."
East Mills will get a good measurement of where they are Friday night when they face Lenox. The Tigers were 8-2 last year. While the names and coaches have changed for Lenox throughout the years, Coach Schafer notes their style has not.
"They always seem to be physical, well-coached and tackle extremely well," he said. "They just seem to replace and keep on going, which is pretty impressive for a small school."
Schafer feels his team's uncertainty on offense could mean they have to be more reliant on the defense.
"If we struggle on offense, we are going to have to play extremely good defense and make this a low-scoring game," he said. "If we give up a lot of points, we could be in trouble. We are going to have to be really good on defense and limit our turnovers."
Trevor Maeder and Jesse Cox will have the call Friday night from Lenox on the KMAX-Stream 1 with pregame coverage beginning at around 6:45. The complete interview with Coach Schafer can be heard below.