Adam Houser is no longer in town. But Shippensburg returns a ton of offensive talent it thinks can more than make up for their record-setting running back. And that would make the Greyhounds an early Colonial favorite. Our preview:
Shippensburg Football 6.JPG
Inside the huddle
Head coach: Eric Foust, 18th season (105-79)
Division: Mid-Penn Colonial
2018 season: 10-2 (5-1)
Postseason: Lost to York in District 3 Class 5A quarterfinals 22-6.
Passing: Comp-Att, Yards, TD
Zack Manning: 45-100, 800, 7
Rushing: Att-Yards, Avg, TD
Jacob Loy: 122-595, 4.9, 3
Alex Sharrow: 32-370, 11.6, 4
Receiving: Rec-Yards, Avg, TD
Nick Gustafson: 21-362, 17.2, 4
Key returners: Nick Gustafson, sr., TE-LB; Christian Melendez, sr., WR-S; Rook Smith, sr., C; Jacob Loy, sr., RB-SS; Karter Craig, sr., OL; Noah Foust, sr., OL-LB; Alex Sharrow, sr., RB; Max Kalb, sr., DB; Colton Musser, sr., TE-LB; Isaiah Houser, jr., WR-DB; Zack Manning, jr., QB; Anthony Smith, so., TE-DL.
Outlook: The Greyhounds return nearly their entire passing game, and Zack Manning seems to have made huge strides. They'll surely be a division contender along with Waynesboro and Northern this season, making for an interesting three-way battle in the Colonial. Don't count this group out.
Aug. 23;at Dover;7 p.m.
Aug. 30;vs. West York;7 p.m.
Sept. 6;at Bermudian Springs;7 p.m.
Sept. 13;at Waynesboro;7 p.m.
Sept. 20;vs. Mifflin County;7 p.m.
Sept. 27;at Greencastle-Antrim;7 p.m.
Oct. 4;vs. West Perry;7 p.m.
Oct. 11;at Northern;7 p.m.
Oct. 18;vs. Red Land;7 p.m.
Oct. 25;vs. Big Spring;7 p.m.
5 Things To Know: Five talking points about the Greyhounds this season
1. Who replaces Adam Houser?: With the toss of a graduation cap two months ago, the Greyhounds officially started life after vaunted runner Adam Houser. The talented back and DB took with him 1,993 rushing yards and some receptions. Now in Year 1 After Houser, the Greyhounds need to figure out how to replace his production, even if truly replacing a talent like Houser, now at IUP, is asking quite a bit. Offensively, that will come from fullback Jacob Loy, who will take on an increased rushing role, and Alex Sharrow, with a few others getting reps. An improved passing game will also aid the cause. “We have plenty of weapons to use,” QB Zack Manning said. Defensively, Houser played safety and later corner as the season progressed. That position will be filled by …
2. The other Houser: If we’re to peg one Greyhound for a breakout campaign, it’s probably the underclassman who shares the same surname and house as the aforementioned RB: Isaiah Houser. The junior is not his big bro on the field — he’s leaner and he plays wide receiver. But he has a similar competitive streak and personality, head coach Eric Foust said. Isaiah is nearly as fast, and his hands are soft. He and Manning are going to make a dangerous deep-ball threat this year. Expect his line of 7-182 and two TDs to get blown out of the water. And on defense, Isaiah will take over Adam’s old role. Not many receivers are going to be able to outrun Ship’s DBs this season.
3. Zack Manning, Year 2: What Manning did well last year in his first year starting was limit turnovers. The then-sophomore threw just five picks in 100 attempts. Now it’s time to add some explosiveness — he threw for 800 yards and seven scores his rookie year as Foust & Co. stuck to the run game. “Oh, man, he has grown up a lot,” Foust said. “Last year at this time he was battling for the starting position. And now it’s been his for a full year almost. He’s taken the bull by the horns, and he wants to learn.” Manning already has the swagger of a veteran passer. With a plethora of weapons around him, he won’t struggle to find open targets. “I feel so much more comfortable,” he said.
4. Speed, speed and more speed: Three members of Ship’s four state-qualifying 4x100 track team is on the roster: Sharrow, Isaiah Houser and Delonte Wilson. The only missing piece is Adam Houser. Sharrow and Wilson are both backs, but don’t be surprised to see Sharrow, who missed time last year with a broken collar bone, run a couple routes and blow by hapless linebackers. The Greyhounds are a home run threat on nearly every snap, returning nearly every piece of its receiving core as well. “Isaiah catches the ball well, Nick catches the ball well,” Foust said. “The [Christian] Melendez kid does a lot of things for us well [at tight end].” That speed will also translate on defense, where it will be hard to beat Ship deep.
5. Oct. 11: That’s the night Shippensburg travels to Dillsburg to take on Northern. It’s easy to book that as a clash of the Mid-Penn Colonial’s likely top teams this year. The Greyhounds’ electrifying weapons against the bruising back that is the Polar Bears’ Kyle Swartz will be an exciting clash of contrasting styles. The Greyhounds won last year’s meeting at home in a hard-nosed 7-0 affair. It’s not a stretch to say the winner of this year’s battle will take home the division title by season’s end.