The Shawnee High School football team may be young this season, but that doesn’t mean it won’t compete in the ultra-competitive Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division.
The Braves graduated 15 seniors – including Kenton Trail Division defensive player of the year and Ohio University recruit Jack McCrory – from a squad that finished 5-5 and 2-2 in the division last season.
With just four returning seniors, the youth movement has begun for Shawnee, coach Rick Meeks said.
“We’re going to be really, really young with four seniors,” he said. “We’re going to try to win every game. The young kids we’re going to put on the field are talented kids. We could take some lumps or we could surprise some people and have a decent season. We’re just taking it one day at a time.”
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The Braves typically have 60 players, including one team that spiked into the 80s, according to Meeks. This season, the Braves have 40 players, including small senior and sophomore classes.
“We have a few in the hallways who should be playing, but there’s not 20 to bring our numbers back up,” said Meeks, who is entering his 16th season as head coach. “It’s just a trend. We’re going to be really, really young.”
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Talented junior athlete Robie Glass will be back under center after completing his first season as the starter last fall. Glass went 67-for-140 passing (47.9 percent) for 916 yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also rushed for 751 yards and a team-high nine scores.
Glass has already had tremendous success for the Braves’ track squad. He won the Division II state championship in the high jump as a freshman and finished third last spring. He qualified in four state track events last season: high jump, 200 and the 800 and 1,600 relays.
Glass’ athleticism will be on display, Meeks said. Glass will primarily play QB, but could move all over the field in the Braves’ spread offense. He’ll also play defense and return kicks on special teams.
“We’ve got a Division I kid and we’re going to throw him out there,” said Meeks.
Juniors Jaden Hall (24 carries, 108 yards, two TDs) and Matt Guyer will join Glass in the backfield, while also playing linebacker on the Braves defense. Juniors Josh Lange and Jonah Hay will anchor the Braves’ offensive and defensive lines.
The Braves will also continue their run of female kickers. Meeks’ daughter, Andi, a junior soccer player at Shawnee, will serve as the Braves’ primary kicker, the fourth girls soccer player to kick for the team in recent years.
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Shawnee will run the same schemes it has run under Meeks and defensive coordinator Devin Spitzer for 16 years.
“You want to coach what you know,” Meeks said. “You don’t want to try to learn something too different. You have to learn it and then you don’t know the nuances. We just take what we’ve done in the past and modify it and make it work for what we’re trying to defend.”
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The Braves are looking for their first league title since winning back-to-back championships in 2010-11. The team to beat is Bellefontaine, said Meeks, which has won the last two CBC Kenton Trail titles.
Shawnee hosts former CBC rival Greenon in the season opener at 7 p.m. Aug. 24.
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