FROM LEFT: Row 1: Alec Rampe, Joe Baker, Matt DeVore, Tyler Atchison, Alex Bleile, Brayton Schmitz, Cole Halliday, Ryan Braunelier, Ora Oler, Ryan Adolph, Austin Bisbee, Brady Lucas, Josh Pettry. Row 2: Jameson Jacobs, Justin Phillips, David Roy, Drew Connor, Nick Hoehn, Tyler Holtgreven, Jacob Kelley, Joey Nelson, Collin Hiatt, Kurtis Gibson, Landry Zehender. Row 3: Riley Miller, Cody McMonigal, Adam Endicott, Brad Couchot, Nic Torres, Marcus Brand, Draeton Fasone, Ross Adolph, Grant Wagner, Lucas Huber. Row 4: Cole Martin, Dakota Iliff, Nick DeVore, Zach Lonyo, Peyten Whitticar, Anthony Bilbrey, Andrew Kelley, Bobby Campbell, Corbin Trumbull.
Coach: Kevin Shoup, third year
Last season: 5-5, 4-5 Blanchard Valley Conference
Returning letter winners: 5
Returning starters: Offense 8, defense 8
Top players: Seniors Ryan Adolph, 6-0, 190, QB/DB; Austin Bisbee, 6-0, 245, OL/DL; Ryan Braunelier, 6-3, 200, TE/DE; Matt DeVore, 6-1, 195, RB/LB; Ora Oler, 5-7, 210, OL/DL. Junior Collin Hiatt, 5-11, 245, OL/DL. Sophomores Ross Adolph, 5-10, 190, TB/LB, Isaac Sexton, 6-1, 255, OL/DL.
Outlook: The Black Knights are battling history, since the program hasn't posted a winning season since 1996 and hasn't won a BVC title since 1992.
While the league title may be difficult, a winning record is well within reach thanks to the return of 19 letter winners (13 seniors and eight starters on both sides of the ball).
"This group of seniors has really bought into what we are trying to accomplish," Shoup said. "These seniors are leaders who want to be the ones who lead us to a winning record in their senior season."
Among the starters on offense are senior Ryan Adolph, a four-year starter at quarterback who threw for 785 yards and three TDs last season, as well as three-year starters Austin Bisbee at tackle, Ora Oler at guard and tight end Ryan Braunelier.
"We have a great senior class that has provided a lot of leadership, especially our offensive linemen," Shoup said. "And our quarterback is a senior who is a three-year starter and a great leader, both on and off the field. But we are inexperienced at the other skill positions."
Those offensive linemen will be anchors on defense as well, while senior Matt DeVore, an All-BVC second team linebacker, returns.
2012 VAN BUREN SCHEDULE
Aug. 31-at McComb
Sep. 7-Hardin Northern
Sep. 14-at Leipsic
Oct. 5-at Pandora-Gilboa
Oct. 26-at Liberty-Benton