SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — When you’ve been successful at football playing it a certain way, you stick with it.
So don’t be surprised if Shawnee returns to the formula coach Jerry Cooper has had success with most of his career this season and makes the running game a bigger part of its offense.
“Last year we were probably 60 percent pass and 40 percent run. It may flip this year and be 60 or 65 percent run,” Cooper said. “Let’s see if we can figure out how to run the ball with a little more efficiency.
“Last year we were really quarterback-centered, and the quarterback had to make plays. This year it’s a lot more balanced. It’s spread out among four or five guys. We’ve got some good backs; we’ve got some good receivers,” he said.
Last season Shawnee senior quarterback Johnny Caprella passed for 1,220 yards and 12 touchdowns, and his 791 yards rushing was more than half the Indians’ total yards on the ground. He scored 13 of Shawnee’s 21 rushing touchdowns and was voted second-team All-Western Buckeye League.
Last season was Cooper’s first season at Shawnee. The Indians won their opener against Delphos Jefferson, lost four in a row to Defiance, Wapakoneta, St. Marys and Van Wert, then won three of their final five game to finish 4-6.
“We had that four-game losing streak and then kind of got our feet under us. We played the best teams in the league three weeks in a row. From that point we won three of the last five and could have won all those games. We just didn’t find a way to win those games,” Cooper said.
“That’s kind of the challenge – let’s compete against all 10 teams. Obviously, there are going to be some good teams, but we have to compete better against those teams, and I expect us to compete better.”
Cooper said this year’s team is ahead of where last year’s team was at this point in the season at understanding his system.
“There’s a lot better learning curve than at this time last year,” he said. “We’re a little bigger and stronger and a little further into the system. There are lots of things that should be better. Now do we make plays and do the things it takes to be a good football team? That remains to be seen.”
Shawnee has returning starters at eight positions on offense, including five linemen, and returning starters at seven positions on defense.
Peyton Wilson was a second-team All-WBL player at defensive back last season. Wide receiver Jacob Vorhees was honorable mention all-league, and linebacker Will Roberson also received honorable mention.
Wilson, who Cooper called “probably our best football player,” will move to linebacker. He and Roberson will be the running backs.
The starting quarterback could be a senior in his first year of high school football. John Barker, a basketball player and a golfer at Shawnee who last played football in the eighth grade, gave Cooper what he called “a big surprise” by deciding to play football again.
“We had him in during the winter and started teaching him our system. This summer he was throwing with our guys. He wanted to play. When these guys were in seventh and eighth grade, he was their quarterback,” Cooper said.
Shawnee has more overall depth than last season, Cooper said.
“We have some experienced linebackers back. We have two corners and three linebackers who played a ton last year.. There are more guys around them this year who can play varsity football. I feel good about our top 25 or 30 players and I feel good about our freshman team.”