CAMDEN — Preble Shawnee has never been to the OHSAA football playoffs, they’ve never won league, but they’ve also rarely returned as much experience and talent as they will bring to field this year.
Head coach Matt Hopkins knows where his team’s strength will be this year — experience.
Perhaps the most obvious experience and talent is in four-year starter and last year’s first team All-SWBL quarterback Joby Williams, who returns for his final season.
His favorite target is also back as four-year starter, as second team All-SWBL receiver Trey Smith returns for his senior season.
Nick Frost and Kolten Dillon return on the offensive and defensive lines. Frost, another All-SWBL first team member will anchor a line that is looking to replace three starters.
Junior Athlete Kevin Ketring is also back, and he will play for the Arrows in a wide range of roles for the 2015 season.
Hopkins is excited for this team’s experience to be key to winning a lot of game. Hopkins said playing on Friday nights is something you can only understand if you have been there before — and often times, close games come down to having been there before.
Hopkins biggest concerns coming into the season?
“Leadership, we have none. There is no leadership, which is disappointing because we have so many four-year starters. The lack of a vocal leader worries me immensely going into the season.”
Another area that concerns Hopkins is the team’s confidence going in. Hopkins spoke about the feel of camp heading into the season: “I just hope we’re not overconfident. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself because your work hard and everyday and you prepared the right way. That is great thing, but if you are confident because you went 5-5 last year or have been a four-year starter, that’s being cocky. So I’m not sure if we’re confident or cocky yet.”
Hopkins said it will be important the team discovers if they are overconfident quickly, because he doesn’t see any “cupcakes” on the schedule for the upcoming season.
Hopkins didn’t give any concrete goals for the season, saying, “My goal personally is always to compete, not matter what whether your p 20 or down 20, that’s how I am going to count success, I want to see us competing and battling through adversity. Of course I always talk league title, really I go into every season thinking we are going to go 10-0 if I didn’t I shouldn’t be coaching.”
Preble Shawnee opens its season against county rival National Trail on Friday, Aug. 28. They then turn around and play Twin Valley South at home on Friday, Sept. 4.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062