The Shenango High football team has a young team stepping into key roles for the 2022 season.

“We’re young. We lost four or five starters from the line last year and definitely have some holes to fill,” Shenango coach Jimmy Graham said. “Early indications show these young players are going to step up and takes those roles we’re asking them to fill. We have to stay healthy. It’s always the same.”

Adapting and staying healthy are the driving forces behind the Wildcats this season.

“I think just to be able to adapt, learn on the fly and stay healthy,” Graham said.

“The last few years we always had an injury or two that impacted the season for us. We have to stay healthy as long as we can and have an opportunity at the end of games to have a chance to win.”

The Wildcats have 29 players on their roster this season. It’s an increase of three players from last season.

Shenango has 11 freshmen and five sophomores on its roster which counts for over 50 percent of the team.

With a younger team, Graham believes speed will be a factor to success instead of power.

“It’s hard to compare this year’s team with last year. We had a really strong upfront line,” Graham said.

“This year, we’re young and not quite as big. We’re going to rely on our quickness than power this year.”

Lack of experience will lead to the underclassmen following the already established upperclassmen on the Wildcats’ roster.

“I would say we are a younger team compared to last year. We lack a little experience in certain positions,” Graham said.

“Last year, I think we averaged 240 or 250 across the line. We have two returning lineman that have seen significant time. One is Kyle Lenhart and he’s going to James Madison (University) so we’ll lean on him a little up front.”

Shenango has six seniors on its roster for 2022.

“They had a great summer. They’ve been here for four years and they do what we expect at practice and offseason conditions,” Graham said of his seniors. “Their leadership has been well received by the younger guys and we hope they keep doing it come game time.”

Shenango’s kicker, Andrew Johnston, is making a return for his junior season.

Remaining healthy was another thing Graham hopes for Johnston.

“We have a returning junior this year. Pretty solid kicker in having him the whole season,” Graham said of Johnston.

“He missed some of the season last year because of injury. Hopefully he can stay healthy this season and be productive for us.”

The one thing Graham wanted to improve was the repetitions in practice to get the younger players keen to their roles.

“I think just repetitions, just getting all the reps. When you practice you try to get as many reps as you can. You never know when a player might go down,” Graham said.

“That’s hard with practicing. You never have enough, you always want more and more and more. We just have to get better in every facet right now and a lot of stuff is new to some young guys.”

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