BOURBON — It wouldn’t be accurate to call this year’s Triton football lineup young. After all, the Trojans boast a full 10 seniors, as well as a deep junior class of 14 players. But this group is an inexperienced one.
The 2019 edition of the Trojans is trying to step out of the shadow of one of the most talented lineups in Triton football history. But this year’s cast seems eager to do so.
“The offseason has probably been one of the best offseasons we’ve had since I’ve been here. Their attitudes have been amazing,” said Triton head coach Rodney Younis. “They want to build upon what we did the last couple of years. They understand that our skill level may not be quite the same as what we had last year, so they’re working twice as hard so they can match what we did.”
Helping with the cause are a handful of returning starters in junior Caleb Lemler, who will start on both lines this season; Trenton Kreft, who returns at linebacker as well as at running back; Hunter McIntyre, who will return at tailback and fill in at outside linebacker, and, lastly but not least, D’Angelo Shumpert, who will move from safety to corner. Younis is also hoping he can show some of the dynamic playmaking at slotback that made older brother and 2019 grad Delano so good.
Connor Pitney moves into number one on the depth chart at quarterback following in the footsteps of record-setting signal caller James Snyder.
“He’s a great leader. I wouldn’t say he’s an outstanding athlete or anything like that, but he’s good at what he does and he’s confident in what he does,” Younis said. “And the kids believe in him. So when you have players that believe in their quarterback, they play harder for him.”
A pair of exciting incoming players join Triton’s lineup this sea on in WR/ LOB Lucas Cabrera and TE/ DL Nate Amsden. Indeed there are a number of newcomers on this year’s roster. It’s a lineup that looks largely unfamiliar after waiting in the wings behind a record-setting class that posted a school-record 9-4 finish and earned their program its first sectional title in a decade last November.
So is it fair to ask if 2019 will be a rebuilding year for Trojan football?
“That’s a fair question. It’s definitely a retooling year,” said Younis. “We’re not young. I don’t want to say this is a youthful team because we do have some quality seniors and some quality juniors that were sitting behind, and now it’s their opportunity. So we’re inexperienced varsity-wise, but they went through the practice time and they do have that experience. It’s just going to be the game speed is where they’re going to have to pick up.”
Younis is himself relatively new to his role, taking the reigns of the program for the first time since 2012 after serving as an assistant under Ron Brown. But he does boast 12 years of head coaching experience at Triton from 2001 through 2012. And, of course, he’s had his hand in the program — particularly on the offensive side of the ball — the past four seasons.
“The last four years I’ve been an assistant under Ron, so it made it an easy, smooth transition. It definitely would’ve been a lot harder if I’d been out and then come back in,” Younis said. “Honestly, it’s been pretty smooth. I was fortunate enough last year with Ron that I ran the offense and he ran the defense, and we pretty much just helped each other out.”
Expect Triton to look pretty similar in terms of offense, but with Zach Whittaker moving in at defensive coordinator from Jimtown, the Trojans will look a lot different on that side of the ball.
“Offensively, we’re going to be similar. Obviously it’s going to be tweaked to fit the kids that we have this year,” explained Younis. “But defensively is where you’re going to see a huge difference. Our scheme is going to be totally different. Coach Whittaker is going to be our defensive coordinator. He’s coming here from Jimtown so he’s bringing that Jimtown mentality, and I feel it’s been really beneficial for our kids. The kids are picking it up fast.”