Shelby Whippets football ushering in a new era, expect same success

·6 min read
Shelby's Issaiah Ramsey will be a key offensive weapon for the Whippets this season.
Shelby's Issaiah Ramsey will be a key offensive weapon for the Whippets this season.

SHELBY — It has never happened in the storied history of Shelby football.

So, it is easy to say, the 2022 Whippets would love to make a bit of history.

After winning three consecutive Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference championships, Shelby is seeking a fourth and would love nothing more than to be the first team in program history to four-peat.

But it will be anything but a walk in the park. The Whippets lost 16 players to graduation and return just three offensive and one defensive starter from last year's 9-3 team. Still, they bring back 17 lettermen so they are far from inexperienced.

Shelby coach Rob Mahaney, who is 26-8 entering his fourth year at Shelby, is excited at the prospects of his spread offense and is anxious to see who is going to step up and make a name for himself.

"We replace eight starters, but we have two big returners in Skyler Winters and Issaiah Ramsey," Mahaney said. "We need to find ways to get those two the ball in different ways to keep the defense guessing. Even with graduating a great wide receiver class, we have developed some depth at the position, in addition to Isaaiah, with guys like Grayson Heydinger, Kam Wheeler, Max Hess, Maverick Noel, Brayden Stone, Audric Kelly, and James Mahon.

"Miles Hall will also be able to help us in the backfield. We replace four guys up front, but our offensive line has gotten better every practice. We do bring back three guys that have started games with Amareon Russell, Garrett Bates, and Cam Cline."

The biggest question facing the Whippets during the preseason and possibly the entire offseason in Richland County was who is going to play quarterback? After record-breaking QB Marshall Shepherd graduated, the position was up for grabs. Senior Landon Kennard is first on the depth chart heading into week one.

He will have security blankets all around him. Junior running back Skyler Winters returns after earning honorable mention All-Northwest District honors last season. He ran for 644 yards on 63 carries with three touchdowns and will likely be the focal point of the offense early in the season.

Junior Issaiah Ramsey is a play-making machine. He caught 30 passes for 567 yards and five touchdowns on his way to being named second team All-MOAC and honorable mention All-NW District. He will be joined by seniors Grayson Heydinger, Max Hess and Kam Wheeler as the go-to receivers in the spread offense. Junior Isaiah Beck will start at tight end.

The offensive line will feature new starters, but players who saw plenty of time last year. Junior left tackle Amareon Ruddell, junior left guard Eli Schwemley, senior center Cam Cline, sophomore right guard Xadrian Ream and senior right tackle Garrett Bates will be doing the dirty work in the trenches this year.

Junior Casey Lantz will handle the kicking duties and might see time at quarterback in certain situations. Sophomore Maverick Noel and senior Brayden Stone will return kicks.

Juniors Miles Hall and Mason Vent will add depth at running back and tight end. But one of the keys for Mahaney will be how to bring in more depth at every position.

"I think there are three main X-factors for us this season," Mahaney said. "One is always the ability to stay healthy. Two is how we grow and develop on the offensive line. And three is what depth can we create on our football team."

Shelby's Landon Kennard is QB1 to start the 2022 season for the Whippets.
Shelby's Landon Kennard is QB1 to start the 2022 season for the Whippets.

Depth is going to be needed on the defensive side of the ball. With just one starter back, there will be a lot of new faces over there.

Vent and Isaiah Beck will start at the defensive end positions. Vent had six tackles with one for a loss while Beck had seven tackles and two for a loss in 2021. Junior Kasper Marten and Bates will be the two defensive tackles.

Winters and Wheeler will start at outside linebacker. Winters had 17 tackles a year ago and Weeler had 10. Cline is sliding into the middle linebacker spot after recording 24 tackles, two for a loss, last season.

Senior Brayden Stone is the lone returning starter after recording 36 tackles at cornerback last year. He will be joined by Heydinger at the position.

Sophomore Tanner Hartz has been named the starting strong safety after recording 12 tackles last season and Ramsey will play free safety with eight tackles under his belt.

Lantz will do the punting and Heydinger will return them on special teams.

Hall will see plenty of time on the field after recording 59 tackles, six for a loss, and a sack last season. Hess and juniors Mark Forwith and Christian Johnson will add depth on defense.

"Defensively, we bring back just one starter," Mahaney said. "However, I think our kids have done a great job of buying into what we do defensively and trusting one another. We have built some great depth on our interior defensive line and inside linebacker. We have had a great summer defensively, and I am excited to see the unit grow week to week."

The Whippets have averaged more than eight wins in each of the last three seasons, and it will take that to win another league championship, which is goal No. 1 on the list.

"Our team goals are to get better every day, win a MOAC title, make the playoffs, and win playoff games," Mahaney said.

The MOAC looks to be anyone's to win but Shelby isn't ready to give up the crown.

"The MOAC is a great football conference, with great football teams from top to bottom," Mahaney said. "We want to do everything in our power, by taking things one practice and one game at a time, to put ourselves in a position week 10 to win a conference title."

In order to keep the league title streak going, Mahaney sees quite a few players stepping up now that is it their turn to shine.

"Grayson Heydinger will be a senior that has been behind two of the best receivers in school history," Mahaney said. "I think he is going to play extremely well for us at wideout. He has bided his time and put in the work to get himself ready. Defensively, Isaiah Beck has had a great summer for us at defensive end. He has worked hard and has the ability to be a great player for us defensively.

"Cam Cline, Garrett Bates, Grayson Heydinger and Landon Kennard were elected by their peers as captains. They have done a great job throughout the offseason and through the beginning of August of leading this team. The other seniors and guys like Issaiah Ramsey and Skyler Winters have done a great job as well."

The Whippets host Madison on Aug. 19 in the final game at WW Skiles Field.

jfurr@gannett.com

740-244-9934

Twitter: @JakeFurr11

This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Shelby Whippets football preparing for new era, same expectations