MECHANICSBURG – The Indians don’t have a lot of “skill” position players returning from last year’s 12-1 team, but the one who is back is one of the best small-school players in the state.
Senior quarterback Kaleb Romero led the Indians to the regional final last year, where they dropped a 9-7 heartbreaker to Marion Local.
“I think about that game every single day,” said Mechanicsburg Coach Kurt Forrest. “I was so proud of our kids battling that way against a team with 85 players. We gained a lot of confidence from that game.”
Romero has no reason to lack confidence considering he is one of the best quarterbacks in the area at any level.
“He’s 15 to 20 pounds bigger this year, and he has complete mental control over games,” said Forrest. “He brings control and intelligence to every play he runs.”
Also returning on offense for the Indians are seniors Ethan Elliott (tackle), Dylan Hartley (guard), Alex Walton (guard), Dylan Hartman (center) and junior Cannon Propst (tackle).
Junior Dustin Knapp will take over as the featured running back this season.
“He’s a great athlete and he got a lot of carries late in games last season,” said Forrest. “He runs hard and violent, which is what we want to see.”
Others vying for playing time on offense include senior receivers Alex Rhine, Tyler Wetzel and Tanner Smith, junior Triad transfer receiver Camron Atchison and sophomore receiver Joey Mascadri.
Returners on defense include Walton (end), Propst (end), Hartley (tackle), Romero (strong safety), Rhine (cornerback), senior Gus Hoewischer (tackle) and junior Drew Myers (linebacker).
Others expected to see varsity playing time on defense include Knapp (linebacker), Wetzel (cornerback), Smith (outside linebacker) and Mascadri (free safety).
“Our purpose is to push to be the best and our goal is to win the state championship,” said Forrest. “We’ve got to push to get to the next level and take the next big step.”
The Indians open the season by playing at West Jefferson Friday night.
Reach Steve Stout at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @udcstout