Paden City Has The Makings for Success
By BUBBA KAPRAL
PADEN CITY — Brent Croasmun starts Year 20 at the Paden City helm with a problem all too common to his program.
The veteran grid boss enters the campaign with just 21 gridders on his roster. Croasmun, however, has come to make the most with the manpower shortages the last several years.
Paden City is coming off a 2-8 campaign. The 2018 fortunes are brighter, however, as the 21 players represents a slight increase from a year ago. Moreover, Croasmun has six starters back on both the sides of the ball.
The Wildcats lost just five players via graduation — Rander Amos, David Joy, C.W. Horton, Garrett Cross and Drew Carpenter.
“We have the potential to very competitive. It will depend on the offensive line as to how good we will be on offense. We have the skilled players to move the football and score,” Croasmun said. “We will continue to work on our offense and defensive lines to find the right combinations.
“Defensively, we need to find 11 guys who want to get to the ball and tackle. I believe we have very capable guys, it’s just a matter of getting them into the right positions. There will be much competition at several positions. The attitude of the boys has been great and I am looking forward to the start of another season.”
Alex McCoy (6-foot, 155 pounds) will be the Wildcats quarterback. He got a late start on the season last year as he was ineligible until Week 9 because of transfer rules.
Croasmun says McCoy, “has improved much this summer.”
Senior Matt Saxon (5-8, 140) is a first-time Wildcats gridder. He has been a solid performer in basketball and baseball and has impressed Croasmun. He will start at wideout and may see time at quarterback.
“Matt has really looked good at wide receiver and we are also looking at him at quarterback,” Croasmun said. “He is a very good all-around athlete who started on the basketball and baseball teams last year.”
Ryan Cross (5-8, 205) heads the running back contingent. The tough-minded senior returns as the team’s leading rusher from a year ago and is a four-year starter.
Michael Shreves (5-10, 155) and Clayton Thomas (5-9, 180) will join Cross in the backfield. Shreves is a three-year letterwinning senior while Thomas is a junior with two letters to his credit.
Saxon heads a solid corp at wide receiver. He is joined in the regular rotation by Bryant McKay (5-6, 170) and Anthony Newman (5-10, 180).
A trio of players supply receiving depth. They are senior Jacob Greene (6-0, 155) and freshmen Shane Anderson (6-2, 146) and Parker Higgins (5-7, 145).
Jason Anderson (6-0, 195) is a nice target at tight end. The sure-handed junior is a two-year lettermen.
The offensive line will get a potent shot-in-the-arm with the return of a healthy E.J. Weber (6-3, 275). The talented junior missed the entire year last fall after tearing his ACL. He will start at guard and has the potential to be dominating.
Weber will be joined at guard by Carson Palmer (5-11, 217). The rising sophomore gives the Wildcats a solid tandem at guard.
Four candidates are battling for starting tackle berths. They are senior Connor Shepherd (6-0, 275), freshman Gavin Lewis (6-0, 200), sophomore Dylan Walton (5-10, 210) and junior James Beaver (5-10, 170).
Senior Cameron Shepherd (5-10, 205) and junior Brad Baker (5-10, 190) are waging a spirited battle for the starting center post.
Additional line depth comes in the form of senior Dustin Clegg (5-9, 185) and sophomore Doneven Clark (5-9, 150).
The strength of the defensive will be at linebacker where all four starters return. Cross, Newman, Shreves and McKay comprise a suffocating unit.
Anderson will be a force at defensive end. Weber will be the other defensive end.
The nose tackle will be come from three aspirants: Cameron Shepherd, Conner Shepherd or Clegg.
Thomas is a returning fixture in the secondary while Saxon is the Wildcats’ safety. Green and McCoy will also see regular duty in the secondary.
The Wildcats have six home games this fall. They open the the campaign Friday night, welcoming Parkersburg Catholic to Berger Field.
Croasmun’s staff includes Ron Casto, Tim Raper and Josh Fulks.