Shippensburg's Kyle Yost was crowned Musical Chairs champion after smart strategy up until the final chair. Video by Lindsey Smith
Shippensburg lost three key pieces to graduation this offseason.
But luckily for the Greyhound football team, three pieces do not make a puzzle.
Returning eight players on both sides of the ball, expectations are soaring in Shippensburg, which graduated Tyler Gustafson, Wade Mills and Cole Friese.
But the new skill players are ready to pick up right where the trio left off. Replacing P.O. Player of the Year Gustafson at quarterback is Carter Van Scyoc, who started six games last year at outside linebacker.
"I also played JV quarterback last year, so they really kept me in the quarterback mentality," Van Scyoc said. "I'm excited about it. It's a big role, but I'm ready to do it."
Ship coach Eric Foust said, "He's going to be very good. He has very good pocket awareness and sees the field well. I'm excited to see what he can do."
Surrounding Van Scyoc is an arsenal of weapons. Returning at wide receiver is Cody Gustafson, who amassed 784 yards on 49 catches last year and scored five touchdowns. He will play across the field from Clayton Stine, a rising senior who hopes to fill some of Mills' shoes.
"We have a ton of pieces on our team," Gustafson said. "Clayton is going to surprise a lot of people, and he's a really good receiver. He works really hard and has extremely good hands."
The ground game sees the return of Adam Houser, who was a two-way threat last season. He had 146 yards on 31 carries and also brought down 13 catches totaling 135 yards. With one year under his belt, Houser, a sophomore, will have a lot more pressure on his shoulders. Leading rusher Zion Ware did not return to the team.
"To me, (Adam)'s a junior in some ways because we had him for a whole year," Foust said. "He has tremendous quickness, and he's up to 165 weight-wise, so he's not little Adam anymore. There's a lot of pieces to Adam that are pretty exciting."
Ship senior Cameron Tinner said, "He's out on the field all the time, and he's just something you don't see every four-year cycle. He's one of a kind, and I think this year, we're going to need him to run the ball more. Defensively, he's still going to be all over the field."
On the defensive side of the ball, it's Tinner whose shoulders are going to feel the weight. As one of the top returning linebackers in Franklin County, Tinner has taken a leadership role this season.
"At times, I think it's a good thing," he said. "People in town are talking about what they expect this year, but as a senior, I want that leadership role. The more pressure I have, the better I play, really."
Just like the offensive side of the ball, Tinner and Ship's defense will have a lot of familiar faces. At linebacker, the Greyhounds return Dylan Jumper, Ian King and Tinner, while Gustafson, Houser and Brandon Wheeler will all play in the secondary.
While the offensive line returns all five starters, the Hound defensive line returns nose guard Rodney Brannen and tackle Denny Santana. According to Foust, there continues to be competition for defensive starting roles, which is something he likes to see.
"The biggest thing we have this year that we didn't have last year is depth," Foust said. "We are six-deep on our line, and at most linebacker positions, we have at least two. In the defensive secondary, we're five deep. Adam and Cody probably won't play a whole game there, so I have (Tyler) McSherry and others that can play back there. We have a lot of pieces that are exciting to us."
Coach: Eric Foust, 15th season, 73-65 (.529).
Returning starters: Nick Kubala (sr., C), Kyle Yost (sr., G), Collin Dolbin (sr., G), Ethan Davidson (sr., T), Christian Boarts (jr., T), Cameron Tinner (sr., FB/LB), Cody Gustafson (sr., WR/DB), Adam Houser (so., RB/DB), Carter Van Scyoc (jr., QB), Brandon Wheeler (sr., DB), Dylan Jumper (sr., LB), Ian King (sr., LB), Rodney Brannen (sr., NG), Denny Santana (sr., DT).
Other top players: Colby Holtry (jr., OLB), Mark Gibbon (sr., DL), Phil Torres (jr., FB), Damon Reid (sr., FB), Clayton Stine (sr., WR), Tyler McSherry (sr., WR).
Predicted record: 7-3
In the huddle
Offense: Multiple formations
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 — Dover, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — at Chambersburg, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — Bermudian Springs, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — Waynesboro, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — at James Buchanan, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — Mifflin County, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — at Greencastle-Antrim, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — at Northern York, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 — West Perry, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 — at Big Spring, 7 p.m.
L // Dover // 42-17
W // Chambersburg // 26-21
W // Bermudian Springs // 26-16
L // East Pennsboro // 50-7
W // Mechanicsburg // 41-12
W // Waynesboro // 31-27
L // Northern York // 24-19
W // Big Spring // 41-13
W // James Buchanan // 49-0
W // Greencastle-Antrim // 23-10
L // x- Solanco // 43-0
x-District 3 Class AAA playoffs