Triton football coach Rodney Younis liked the way his very young football team finished the 2011 season.
Now, he hopes for some carryover effect into this year’s campaign.
The Trojans return a large group of players who played key roles a year ago as freshmen and sophomores. Triton, after an 0-6 start in 2011, won two of its final four games to finish at 2-8. The Trojans, the smallest school in their league, were 2-5 in Northern State Conference play with wins over LaVille and Knox.
“We have a good mix of kids,” said Younis. “We have good senior leaders and we have a lot of talent in our junior and sophomore classes. We played a lot of those kids last year as freshmen and sophomores.
“I think how we played at the end of last year gave us some life going into this season. I was pleased with the improvement and the gains our young guys made last year. And we had a number of kids who had good off seasons and got stronger.”
Triton returns 15 starters this fall, including several who will play key roles on both sides of the ball for the Class 1-A program.
Senior Bryson Mosier will direct the spread offensive attack full-time at quarterback in 2012. Mosier threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns while starting about half the games a year ago. Juniors Cody Shively (454 yards rushing, four touchdowns) and Cole Creighbaum will be big keys in the backfield. Fullback Shively and versatile Creighbaum, who will play multiple positions, are entering their third year as starters. Senior D.J. Riffle, who will play in the slot, is also being counted on by Younis.
The Trojans return experience in the trenches with four offensive linemen back. Key players upfront include seniors Joe West (5-10, 285) at center, senior Drew Fleagle (5-9, 170) at guard, junior Jayden Mosier (5-10, 170) at guard and Zac Edmonds, a 6-5, 295-pound sophomore, at tackle.
“Hopefully, a year of experience will help all of our kids this season,” Younis said. “Our offense needs to control the ball and take care of it.”
Triton will look to its linebacker corps to lead the way in its 3-5 defensive scheme. Shively is a big key there as the standout piled up a team-high 133 tackles in 2011. Also back as returning starters at linebacker are Bryson Mosier and Jayden Mosier. Sophomores Trevor Kanarr and Grant Stichter are also expected to contribute at linebacker. Sophomore Cordale Keyser (66 tackles, two interceptions) returns to lead the secondary. Also key in the defensive backfield are Creighbaum and sophomore Charlie Steinman. Being counted on upfront defensively will be returnees like West, Edmonds and Fleagle.
Triton will look to improve on the defensive side of the ball this fall after allowing an average of 41.3 points-per-game and 250 yards rushing per game in 2011.
Younis, entering his 11th season, knows what the No. 1 key is for his team since the roster includes 40 players.
“We have to stay healthy,” emphasized Younis. “And we have to continue to improve. Like I said, that was something I was pleased with about last year. Our goal is to finish in the top half of the NSC, which is a very tough conference and to win our sectional.
“I couldn’t ask for any more from our kids. They work hard, listen, have a willingness to get better and a competitiveness. They blend well together and are unselfish.”
“We have big challenges ahead and we know that. But, I think our kids are ready for them.”
Triton, whose last winning season was in 2008 (8-5), opens the campaign at Caston Aug. 17.
2012 Triton Football Schedule
Aug. 17: At Caston
Aug. 24: At Northfield
Aug. 31: Culver
Sept. 7: Bremen
Sept. 14: at John Glenn
Sept. 21: New Prairie
Sept. 28: at LaVille
Oct. 5: Knox
Oct. 12: at Jimtown