"With respect to all the great Winfield teams of the past, this is the hardest schedule we've ever had. They played tough schedules at their level [Class AA], but if you look at our schedule, it's the toughest as far as triple-A. We lost Riverside and Logan and replaced them with Woodrow Wilson and South Charleston. I think it's a fair statement to say that if we make the playoffs, it will be well-earned because of the quality of our schedule.''
Snyder said he and his coaching staff don't have far to look to determine where they can shore up the program and earn that first postseason spot since 2005.
"In terms of us being good, it's really simple,'' he said. "We have to be much better up front. When we played teams that weren't great up front, we competed with them, and we won some of those games. But when we played team like Cabell Midland, Spring Valley and Hurricane last year, they beat us up front and we couldn't compete.
"It wasn't because our guys didn't try. It was a mentality issue. Some of it was a physical ability issue. That's the key. You can have plays that are well-drawn and all kinds of stuff in here [the coaches room], but it doesn't matter. Because if you don't block it, it doesn't matter.''
The Generals figure to be able to move the ball with returning talent like quarterback Toby Show and receiver Chris Turner, both seniors.
Show threw for 1,507 yards and 14 TDs last year, with 48 connections going to Turner for 656 yards and six scores.
"This offense really has no limits,'' said Turner, who hopes to play collegiately. "As long as we execute and continue to work hard, and do what we do and listen to our coaches, we can do anything we want to. But it's going to be hard. It's not going to come easy.''
Show likes the fact that Turner isn't the only experienced pass-catcher coming back. John Hathaway grabbed 19 balls for 270 yards and two scores last year, Jacob Lewis had 18 receptions for 178 yards and three TDs and running back Colt Richardson returns from a knee injury that wiped out his 2012 season.
"We have a lot of people returning,'' Show said. "We have a stronger line than we did last year, most of the skill players are back and a lot of people are rotating. So we should have a lot of fresh people and a lot of people ready to catch balls. The sky's the limit for the team this year.''
Since Tim Meyer became head coach at Herbert Hoover four years ago, the offense has featured a workhorse running back. But for the first time since Meyer took over, the No. 1 ball-carrier from last year returns.
Senior Shaun Dotson, who lugged the ball 151 times last year - 115 more than any other running back - returns for duty.
"I'm ready for it,'' Dotson said. "I bust my butt in the weight room every day, and I rely on my line a lot. I'll do whatever it takes to go as far as we can.''
Other Hoover mainstays in the backfield in recent years have been Josh Mack in 2011 (144 carries, 106 more than the next running back), Robbie Kidd in 2010 (198 carries, next closest had 22) and Storm Robinson in 2009 (184 carries, 132 more than runner-up).
Meyer thinks Dotson can handle the load he's asked to tote.
"You talk about somebody that works his butt off, I'll tell you,'' Meyer said. "He was in the weight room all off-season. He was in the weight room all through baseball. He's been up here and he hasn't missed a single workout since I can't remember - other than a week for his family vacation. He works hard and is a great kid.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 rickr...@wvgazette.com.