The graduation of all-time rushing leader Toddé Statum marks the end of an era for Shippensburg.
But it doesn't mean the Greyhounds are out of offensive options.
Shippensburg finished 8-3 a year ago, second to Greencastle-Antrim in the Mid Penn Colonial Division. Although they've made the playoffs three out of the past four seasons, the Hounds have yet to escape the first round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs during that span.
Last year, Shippensburg's season ended with a 15-6 first-round loss to Hershey.
"The goal is always to improve each year," Ship coach Eric Foust said. "We want to be better than we were last year and we have our work cut out for us. We had a good team last year, but I think we have some athletes who are ready to perform for us this year, as well."
If they're going to take that next step this season, the Greyhounds will do so on the arm of senior quarterback Marshal Witmer. A stable of running backs will attempt to fill the void left by Statum's absence.
Statum ran for a school-record 3,692 yards over three years, while scoring 43 touchdowns. His most efficient season was his last, in which he rushed for 1,533 yards, averaged 7.1 yards per carry and accumulated a career-high 23 touchdowns.
Replacing those numbers won't be easy, but Foust is confident he's found the right mix between Trey Proctor, Tony Johnson and Jeremy Wray.
"I don't know if you can replace a player like Toddé," Foust said. "We have some backs who will fill in and do the job for us.
Toddé was a special athlete, but I think our running backs will be able to step in. With the help of a good offensive line, they'll handle it well."
Led by left tackle Cary Hess, the offensive line looks to be formidable. Hess, a junior, is coming off a whirlwind summer during which he was invited to the National Underclassmen Combine Top Prospect Developmental Camp at the University of Oklahoma.
He'll be joined on the line by Garrett Vandebrake, Jason Shinledeker, Ryan Frey and Austin Horst.
"I'm excited to see where our offensive line is," Foust said. "They had a really good first scrimmage. The nice thing is they're a tight group. They're good friends, work hard together and had a good offseason in the weight room. We're excited to see where they stack up."
The offensive line will be tasked with protecting Witmer, last year's starter, who threw for 349 yards and three touchdown passes in 10 games. He'll look to connect with receiver Jeremy Musser and tight end Zac McMullen, although both players combined for only two catches and one touchdown a year ago.
"Marshal has a strong arm and he's a good athlete," Foust said. "I expect big things out of Marshal this year. I expect him to be a bigger leader first. Everything else will fall into place from there.
"I think Musser will be a surprise at receiver and I think McMullen, our tight end, could come out and do some things as an offensive weapon."
Defensively, there's a lot to be excited about for a unit that returns nine starters.
On the line, Vandebrake and Hess will play both ways, along with Nate Hart. Patrolling the backfield will be Musser, Proctor and Zach Myers.
Perhaps the most intriguing area of the defense is the linebacking corps - a group of five returning starters.
Foust expects a big year from linebackers Luke Allison, Shane Witmer, Branson Allen, Matt Chiappelli and Robbie Keyes.
Aside from Friday's season opener at Middletown, the next date circled on Shippensburg's calendar is Sept. 23 against rival Big Spring at home.
Although a further run in the playoffs is the ultimate goal for the Greyhounds, returning the Little Brown Jug to its rightful place is nearly as important.
Shippensburg's five-year ownership of the prize ended last year with a 20-19 loss on the road and was the Hounds' first defeat of the year.
Greyhounds at a glance
Coach: Eric Foust, 10th season, 35-48 (.325).
Last year: 8-3 (5-2 Mid Penn Colonial Division); lost 15-6 to Hershey in the first round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.
Starters lost: Toddé Statum (P.O. first team); Dereck Mills (P.O. first team), Matt Conner (P.O. second team); Alex Harry; Chase Rhoades; Kasaun Shaffer; John Baker.
Returning starters: Cary Hess (jr., LT/DL, 6-4, 250); Luke Allison (sr., RB/LB, 5-9, 225); Marshal Witmer (sr., QB, 6-0, 190); Branson Allen (sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 185); Matt Chiappelli (sr., WR/LB, 6-3, 190); Zac McMullen (sr., TE/LB/P, 6-2, 225); Robbie Keyes (jr., TE/LB, 6-1, 215); Garrett Vandebrake (sr., LG/DL, 5-10, 225); Zach Myers (sr., WR/DB/K, 5-10, 175); Jeremy Musser (sr., WR/DB, 6-0, 180); Shane Witmer (sr., TE/LB, 6-0, 240); Trey Proctor (sr., HB/ DB, 5-8, 170).
Other top players: Tony Johnson (jr., RB/DB/KR, 5-11, 177); Jeremy Wray (jr., RB/LB, 5-10, 195); Jason Shindledeker (jr., C/DT, 5-10, 225); Ryan Frey (jr., RG/LB, 5-9, 215); Austin Horst (jr., RT/DL, 6-1, 270).
Predicted record: 7-3.
Stadium: Veterans Stadium at Memorial Park
Location: On the west side of town, with the entrance off U.S. 11
Ticket prices: $5 for reserved seats; general admission is $4 for adults and $2 for students.
Sept. 2 A Middletown 7:00
Sept. 9 H Kennard-Dale 7:00
Sept. 16 A Northeastern 7:00
Sept. 23 H Big Spring 7:00
Sept. 30 A James Buchanan 7:00
Oct. 7 H West Perry 7:00
Oct. 14 A Northern 7:00
Oct. 21 H Waynesboro 7:00
Oct. 28 A Greencastle-Antrim 7:30
Nov. 4 H Gettysburg 7:00
Last Year (8-3)
W 41-0 Middletown
W 27-23 Kennard-Dale
W 41-6 Northeastern
L 20-19 Big Spring
W 55-6 James Buchanan
W 55-13 West Perry
W 14-13 Northern York
W 35-0 Waynesboro
L 27-9 Greencastle-Antrim
W 17-6 Gettysburg
L 15-6 Hershey