Jason Roper's second season at the helm for Massac County High School's football program is already looking up. Roper isn't ready to predict a winning season, far from it, but he likes a lot about this year's squad.

"We had a great off-season in the weight room and are definitely stronger physically but that doesn't change our schedule and it's a difficult one. One of our strengths is our offensive backfield. We return quarterback Bruce Neill and have Blake Baird and David Thompson at running backs.

We also have a group of boys to go with Baird and Thompson in Dawson Troutman, Devin Scott, Jody Dumpprope and Nate Jackson. We should be able to run the ball. Defensively, our strength will probably be our defensive line.

We return Isaiah Hart, Aaron Thigpen, Preston Meadows, Dathan English and David Thompson.

We've had a few kids leave but overall our numbers are up and that's a trend that we have to maintain," said Roper.

The Patriots open the season at home for their first two games against a pair of powerful foes in DuQuoin [8/30] and Nashville [9/06].

Roper will have a good idea about where they stand after those two games. The Patriots' 2019, nine game schedule features five home games and four road games this year.

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