Shenango has seen a steady improvement under Jimmy Graham.

Now in the fourth season under his direction, the Wildcats hope the trend continues.

The climb reached a nice peak last season as Shenango captured a share of the WPIAL Class A Big Seven Conference title and reached the WPIAL semifinals.

“Anytime you start building a program or setting expectations, each year you try to duplicate or do a little better,” he said.

“This senior class has been with me since I started. They know the system on offense and on defense. Right now, it’s more about execution and fine-tuning a lot of the things we’ve done over the offseason.”

The ’Cats will have a different look on offense with the graduation of Reis Watkins. He ranked second in Lawrence County rushing with 1,278 yards on 132 carries. He filled in at quarterback early in the season, too. C.J. Miller, Hayden Morgan, Aaron Martin and Hunter Lively will share the running back duties.

“That’s one area we really need to attack by committee,” Graham said.

“Reis was a phenomenal running back. Just his physical stature alone was intimidating. We don’t have that player on our team this year. We have a really good group of kids working hard that can contribute.”

Shenango has a new look at quarterback. Tino Campoli is out of the season while recovering from surgery. Sophomore Sam Myers and freshman Sam Patton are working at the position.

“Tino’s a big loss for us. He could have been a four-year starter for us,” Graham said. “We lost some other seniors to injuries, too. But, the seven we have bring a tremendous amount of leadership and experience to the table.”

Dalton Peters returns at wide receiver. Preston Schry and tight ends Will Patton and Colton Fedrizzi will factor into the passing game as well. The ’Cats rely on their experience on the offensive line in center Brandon Stuck, guards Jason Domenick and Trever Valenti and tackles Austin Bintrim and Kyle Lenhart.

“We go as our line goes. We have a tremendous group coming back with experience,” Graham said. “We expect big things from them.”

Stuck, Domenick, Valenti and Lenhart are on the defensive line. Rocco Romeo and Chris Kale could see time at defensive and offensive line, too. Will Patton, Martin, Fedrizzi and Peters are at linebacker, while Miller and Schry are cornerbacks and Lively and Morgan are safeties.

Andrew Johnston takes over kicking duties for bother Aidan, who was a key member of Shenango’s special teams until he graduated in the spring.

The ’Cats hope to be in the mix to defend their Big Seven title.

“I think our conference is pretty strong. Last year, a lot of the teams were young. I expect every week to be a battle. There are a lot of good coaches and teams in the conference,” Graham said. “We’ll go week to week, but our goal is to win the conference, get in the playoffs and try to make a deep run. We will try to stay as healthy as we can and compete at a high level.”

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