The Clopton IndianHawks are coming off a disappointing 3-7 season and have their third head coach in three years.
That could have dissuaded a good number of potential players to not show up for summer drills.
However, new Head Coach Mike Scheibel has 38 players on the roster, 11 more than last year and the most ever for the combined high schools squad, according to him.
“We’re excited about the kids coming out,” Scheibel said. “It strengthens the talent pool.
“We’re a family and that’s how we want to play,” Scheibel said. “I want this to be a team atmosphere and I think that’s what we have.
“I feel like we can compete at a high level in our conference and district and I think we can come in at least second in both. Our goal is to win a playoff game.”
Scheibel won’t completely scrap the wide- open passing offense pioneered by program founder and former head coach Adam Falloon.
“We call it a run and gun offense, but we’ll run the ball more,” than in the past.
The IndianHawks will also play a 3-5-3 defense with a blitz emphasis.
“It’s different than what they’ve done here,” Scheibel said. “It’s based on our personnel. We don’t have a lot of big kids, but we do have a lot of linebacker stature kids.”
Scheibel is blessed with a large amount of seniors on the roster and four of them are captains, quarterback Jack Hicks, linebacker Rheed Leake, middle linebacker Devin Linton and lineman Matt Parrinello.
“I let the kids vote on who the captains would be, so it says something when they picked these kids,” said Scheibel. “They are leading by example and they are playing hard and as long as they do that, I don’t think there will be too many teams that will be able to run us down, if any.”
It won’t be easy to replace former All-EMO Conference utility player Charles Fraction, who could do anything on a football field. But that won’t deter the 2013 IndianHawks.
Returning with the four captains will be speedy junior Raheim Porter at scatback. Athletic sophomore Jeremy Jennewein will line up at wide receiver again. Leake will play tight end and senior Ryan Booher will catch some pigskins. Look for Linton to be a big lead blocker and short distance runner out of the backfield.
Returning offensive linemen include senior guard Danny Somers and senior center Parrinello. Junior Alex Black will play tackle and junior Vince Hollocher will be at the other guard position. Freshman Logan Anthony will also see action in the trenches.
On defense, senior Bobby Schlueter is back at linebacker. Junior Mike Werkmeister returns from injury and will be one of the five linebackers in the IndianHawks’ scheme.
Booher will play the corner as will junior Collin Duggan. Porter’s speed puts him at safety.
Senior Chris Maiuro will play on the defensive line with Black and Parrinello.
The IndianHawks will play on the road at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30 against the Winfield Warriors.