Wells Eyes Improvement In Year 2 With the Zeps
By CODY TOMER
SARAHSVILLE — After a 4-6 record in his first season at Shenandoah, Jesse Wells believes that despite having a young squad, the Zeps can still be contenders in both the Pioneer Valley Conference and the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference.
“Last year we just came in with the idea to get our feet on the ground with a new program,” Wells said. “We weren’t exactly happy with a 4-6 record but it was also a good start for us in the program.
“This year I really believe that we can be a playoff team. We want to compete for a PVC and an OVAC title in the upcoming year.”
If the Zeps are going to make a splash in either conference, they will have to do so without their OVAC All-Star and first team All-Ohio defensive lineman-running back Michael VanFossen.
“There is no doubt that losing Michael is going to hurt,” Wells said. “However, I am looking forward to the challenge.”
The Zeps also lost lineman Isaac Dimmerling who was first team All-OVAC, running back Joe Laipply, WR-DB Zak Biancarelli and lineman Kyle Saling.
Shenandoah is still a relatively young team but most of those athletes received plenty of playing time and experience throughout the 2015 campaign, which could make it easier to fill the shoes of VanFossen and could lead to a bright future.
“We started five freshmen last season and we are still relying on sophomores and juniors this year,” the coach said. “We have a quarterback, running back, tight end and five offensive linemen returning this season, along three defensive backs and all three linebackers, so we really do have a lot coming back this year.”
Wide receiver and defensive back Dalton Cowgill is a three-year letterman and he will lead the Zeps in his senior season, as will with senior RB-DL Derrick Heddleson.
Junior Austin McPeek, who pitched very well last spring for the baseball team, is a two-year letterman and will look to be a main staple at the receiver and defensive line positions. Other two-year letterwinners who can be key parts of the campaign are junior RB-DB Nick Miller, seniors Caden Trenner (TE-LB) and Tristen Laipply (OL-LB), along with junior OL-DL Cash Presnell.
Other returning lettermen include senior lineman Aden Jordan, junior quarterback Christian Bond, junior lineman Mitchell McClay and sophomores Ethan Wiley, who will play running back and defensive back, Boone Jones, who plays quarterback and linebacker, Chase Chicwak who will line up in the backfield, and Tanner Brown and Dalton Rice who will defend the trenches.
Hunter Wheeler (OL-LB) rounds out the senior class, while Clint Wikander (WR-DB) wraps up the juniors.
Sophomores looking for their first letter consist of WR-DB Hunter Templeton, TE-DB Jayden Porter, WR-DB Gavin Frye and lineman Zack Fain.
Freshmen looking to make a splash are RB-DB Wesley Guy, QB-LB Aden Laipply, RB-DB Kendal Sherman, RB-LB Briggs Schafer, WR-DB Jason Flaitz and linemen Easton Hitchens, Logan Waers, Branson VanFleet and Anthony Santostasi.
Coaching the 30 players along with Wells will be Justin Wells, Eric Sholtis, Matt Weddle, Derrick Leach, Rob Pachuta, Ray Henry, Andy Hronec and Miley Tomcho.
“I am looking forward to the year,” Wells said. “We have a tough schedule but we played them all tough last year so this should be a fun season at Shenandoah High.”
That rigorous schedule begins Friday night when the Zeps play host to Frontier.