SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP – On the walls of the Shawnee football meeting room are a number framed pictures.
One is new Shawnee coach Jon Carpenter’s brother, Bobby Carpenter, in a Dallas Cowboys’ uniform.
Another is Jon’s dad, Rob Carpenter, plowing through the line for the New York Giants.
One more shows his brother, Nathan, playing for Ohio University.
Jon Carpenter has been around football all his life, as he played at Cincinnati and was a grad assistant there. He was also the offensive line coach at Northern Colorado, a defensive assistant at Notre Dame and a defensive graduate assistant at Ohio State last year.
Carpenter realizes the challenge he has entering a program that went 2-8 last year.
“We’ve tried to connect with every single play here, individually,” Carpenter said. “That’s why the coaches here were hired. They’re here to build relationships with every player. That’s why I’m here. That’s what I love to do. … That’s how I was born and raised, coach and develop young kids with the game of football.”
Part of what Carpenter preaches is chemistry.
“We’ve tried to be creative to get into their hearts and minds,” Carpenter said. “Obviously, it’s new and change, and people are hesitant to change. You have to make the connection with them, and then we can start building the team from there. We’ve made strides, but there’s a long way to go. There’s a lot of potential here.”
The Indians return five starters on offense, including 5-foot-10, 200-pound quarterback Griffin Hites.
“Griffin is an extremely gifted young man,” Carpenter said. “His intelligence level, for a high school football player, is extremely high. His FBI, football intelligence, is the highest it can be at a high school level.”
Other returnees on offense are linemen Austin Allison and Jordan Tavarnak. Mitchell Shirk saw action on the line, as well.
Gone is tailback Angelo Fox. Carpenter said he isn’t sure who will take over the bulk of the running chores. Among the players in the mix are Noah Hanjora and Spencer Jordan.
Also back was wide receiver Grant Wheeler.
Offensively, Carpenter will seek balance between the run and the pass.
“We want one (an offense) that gets first downs,” Carpenter said. “We’re going to run and we’re going to pass. … I’d say it’s a West Coast, pro-style offense. I’d like a balance.”
On defense, the Indians return backs Dylan Askins and Zach Casey and Tovarnak and Rakim Hawthorne on the line. Hanjora saw action in the secondary.
Jordan returns at linebacker.
Carpenter didn’t mention any specific number of victories, but he does expect a few things from his team.
“I want them to come together as a team,” Carpenter said. “I want them to play and fight for four quarters. That’s what I’d love to see from these kids.”
Reach Tom Usher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Lima_Usher.