Edison Graduate Shane O’Brien Takes Over at Alma Mater
By AARON PETCHAL
RICHMOND — A new chapter for the Edison football team begins this season.
In February, Shane O’Brien was named head coach of his alma mater, replacing Nate Moses who resigned after one season. O’Brien, a 2012 graduate, served as an assistant coach for the Wildcats for four seasons, including serving as the team’s offensive coordinator last year.
Edison ended last season at 2-8. Its wins came against Oak Glen and Buckeye Local, a combined 2-18 mark.
Edison lost seven seniors in Dustin Calhoun, Seth Cade, Kenny Cranston, Tim McCoy, Hunter West, Dylan Haldamin and Zak Kestner. The Wildcats return 14 lettermen and have 46 players on the roster heading into August, 11 more than last year.
“A large portion of our players do have experience playing on Friday night,” O’Brien said. “We had a small senior class last season. We return eight or nine starters on offense and eight or nine starters on defense. Having so many players with experience is definitely a great thing to have.”
Offensively, the Wildcats will be using a variety of formations.
“We are going to have a hybrid set,” O’Brien said. “I like the pro set with a tight end and a fullback with the quarterback under center. We are not going to run a constant spread. We want to have our tight ends on the field. Sometimes they will be attached. We have a good mix in the backfield and some good athletes. We can move guys around. We can play our tight ends at fullback or as slot receivers.”
Newcomer Anthony Sinicropi, a standout on the baseball team, will be the starting quarterback this season. Sinicropi, a senior, has not played football since junior high.
“He’s a little rusty, but he is getting better,” O’Brien said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s doing a good job and has won the starting job.”
He will be backed up by junior Noah Woods and freshman Tyler Griffith. Woods saw time at quarterback last season and even started a few games.
“They will be competing for the No. 2 spot,” O’Brien said. “Woods will be one of our starting wide receivers if he is not playing quarterback. Tyler Griffith has a ton of potential. He has a strong arm. We want to see him develop.”
Junior Kaleb Waggoner will be the starting tailback, an athlete O’Brien describes as quick and agile.
“He is a little small, but he runs hard,” he said. “He runs hard for his size. He is not afraid to run downhill and is not afraid of getting hit.”
Senior Myles Drake and Griffith are also expected to see some carries this season. Drake has not played football since junior high.
“We do not have a true fullback this season,” O’Brien said. “No one has won that job. Offensively, we are going to try some different things. Our scheme is we want to move around the talent that we do have. We want to give defenses a couple of different things to look at.”
Senior Bryce McAfoose and Woods will be the team’s two main wide receivers. Seniors Ryan Higgs, Keithan Woods and Zane Dean will all also see time.
“Ryan is a new guy,” O’Brien said. “He is another great athlete. He has good hands and will play in the slot.”
Senior Andrew Kinney and junior Logan Hanchin will both see time at tight end.
“We have two guys who have really done a great job,” O’Brien said. “We will be looking to get them both on the field at the same time.”
The offensive line will play a key role in Edison’s ability to move the ball on offense. O’Brien hopes it will also be the most improved.
Senior Ben Kuntz, a three-year starter, returns at center to anchor the line.
“He is our first-team captain,” O’Brien said. “He does a great job. He is the leader of the offensive line. He makes sure the other guys are all on the same page. He makes all of the calls.”
The two guards will be juniors Cody and Levi Waggoner, who are cousins. Junior Blake Chesla is in the mix to see time at center and guard.
The two starting tackle positions have not been set. Four players (seniors Logan Morrison, Luke Allen and Joey McAllister along with junior Lukas McCain) are all in the running for one of the two starting spots.
“We have good depth on the offensive line,” O’Brien said. “We have guys we can rotate in. We have some battles going on at camp. We are to settle on our top five guys.”
Defensively, Edison will be playing a 3-3-stack.
“We have good athletes who make plays and play fast,” O’Brien said. “Defensively, we want to confuse the offensive line. We are going to be playing a lot of guys close to the line of scrimmage. We want to play aggressive on defense. We have guys who can shoot through the gaps and take on double teams. We want to put pressure on the backfield. The strength of our defense is our defensive line.”
The Wildcats are looking to rotate six guys on the defensive line. Seeing time at nose guard will be the Waggoners. Kuntz, McCain and Chesla will all also see time up front.
“We are still looking for more depth,” O’Brien said. “We have a lot of guys competing for time. We are going to find out who the guys are who can rotate in on Friday nights. We are still looking for that.”
Morrison, Hanchin and Kinney are the top three guys to see time at middle linebacker. Drake and Griffith also are in the mix. The top guys outside are McAfoose, Kaleb Waggoner and Higgs.
In the secondary, Sinicropi, Keithan Woods and Dean will all see time at corner, while Noah Woods and Kaleb Waggoner will see time at safety.
Junior Carter Montgomery returns to handle the kicking duties. Noah Woods, Hanchin and Kinney are in the mix at punter. Noah Woods punted some last season.
“Last year, we punted out of an offensive formation,” O’Brien said. “This season, we are going to line up in a punting formation.”
Kaleb Waggoner and McAfoose will be returning kicks and punts.
“Kaleb Waggoner is a great athlete,” O’Brien said. “He was close to taking a couple of punts back for touchdowns last season. He is dangerous back there.”
Kuntz will serve as the team’s long snapper, although there are a couple of other guys in the mix at that position.
There are 17 seniors on the Wildcats roster, and they are being counted on to provide good leadership to the lower classmen. Some of the leaders lead by example, while other are more vocal leaders.
“Anthony Sinicropi leads by example,” O’Brien said. “He is not a guy who says much. Zane Dean is another good leader. Bryce McAfoose is a little more vocal. He is one the rah-rah guys.
“They want to help the other guys, and we want to help them become better leaders. The kids are working hard. They want to learn how to be good leaders. We want the guys to buy in. We have some very good leaders.”
Eight of the 10 teams on Edison’s schedule return from last season. The two new teams — Southern Local and Weir High — replace Union Local and Harrison Central. The Wildcats and the Red Riders played in 2016 at Jimmy Carey Stadium.
The Wildcats are scheduled to open up the season against the Indians at Wigwam Stadium. The contract between the squads is a multi-year deal
“It’s a great matchup,” O’Brien said. “We are excited. We are looking forward to it.”
A win against the Indians would give the Wildcats a boost going through the rest of their season.
“A win would give the new guys confidence,” O’Brien said. “It would show them that all of their hard work pays off. It is a process. We are excited.”
Aug. 24: at Southern Local 7 p.m.
Aug. 31: Wellsville 7 p.m.
Sept. 7: at Toronto 7 p.m.
Sept. 14: Steubenville Catholic 7 p.m.
Sept. 21: Beaver Local 7 p.m.
Sept. 28: Oak Glen 7 p.m.
Oct. 5: East Liverpool 7 p.m.
Oct. 12: at Weir 7 p.m.
Oct. 19: at Buckeye Local 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Indian Creek 7 p.m.
Win 3, Lose 7
Luke Allen, Kaleb Briganti, Dakota Clifton, Zane Dean, Myles Drake, Dominick Flenniken, Conrad Gump, Ryan Higgs, Andrew Kinnery, Ben Kuntz, Bryce McAfoose, Joey McAllister, Logan Morrison, Noah Simpson, Anthony Sinicropi, Dominic Williams, Kiethan Woods
Blake Chesla, Brady Fox, Troy Hackathorn, Logan Hanchin, Tristan Hughes, Tucker Irwin, Lukas McCain, Carter Montgomery, Kaleb Morrison, Cody Waggoner, Kaleb Waggoner, Levi Waggoner, Noah Woods
Jacob Fenske, Chase Furbee, Layne Kinney, Taylor Shrieve