Head coach: Eric Foust, 19th season (116-80)
Division: Mid-Penn Colonial
2019 season: 11-1 (6-0)
Postseason: Lost to Exeter Township in District 3 Class 5A quarterfinals 16-14.
Passing: Comp-Att, Yards, TD
Zack Manning: 58-120, 1,059, 14
Rushing: Att-Yards, Avg, TD
Devin Wilson: 9-74, 8.2, 0
Receiving: Rec-Yards, Avg, TD
Isaiah Houser: 29-654, 22.6, 10
Anthony Smith: 1-29, 29.0, 0
Key returners: Isaiah Houser, sr., WR-DB; Zack Manning, sr., QB; Dalton Foore, sr., OL-DL; Sean Hess, sr., OL; Anthony Smith, jr., TE-DL.
Outlook: The Greyhounds are fresh off an unbeaten regular season. They’ve been at or near the top of the division for years. They are the gatekeepers. Sure, they lost quite a few (lightning fast) weapons from last year, but no team comes into their territory and expects to have it easy.
And it’s hard to fathom a team as competitive and prideful as Eric Foust’s ‘Hounds won’t want to show Class 5A newcomers Mechanicsburg and Susquehanna Township, a pair of Keystone Division transplants who expect to contend immediately, (and Class 4A East Pennsboro) what’s what. The Colonial, which Foust confidently believes is stronger than it’s given credit for, runs through Shippensburg. “We’re excited to see new teams,” Foust said. “We take it as a new challenge. There are people coming into our division that we’ve been very good in for a number of years.”
3 Things to Know:
1. Time to let it fly: If there was an archetype for developing and starting a young quarterback over three years, it looks a lot like what Shippensburg has done with Zack Manning. As a sophomore, Manning won the QB competition and was tasked with managing the game while feeding the explosive Adam Houser, a running back now at IUP. As a junior, the Greyhounds opened the playbook up a little more, which paid off as Manning attempted 17 more passes (completing 12 more), threw for 225 more yards and doubled his TDs from seven to 15 (while matching the number of picks: five). He no longer has Houser, or last year’s two-headed backfield that featured speedy 1,200-yard rushers Adam Sharrow and Jacob Loy. Instead, he has deep threat WR Isaiah Houser and the green light. “He’s one of the very few three-year starters that I have,” head coach Eric Foust said. “Right now, I think he has the capabilities to be a very good quarterback this year, and it’s time to let him go.”
2. Smith & Houser, Defense Attorneys: The biggest challenge Ship has to face — other than the pandemic — is replacing nine of the 11 starting spots on defense. Blue chip DE Anthony Smith, who racked up D-I scholarship offers, including Penn State, by the wagon load this summer, and speedster Houser are the only entrenched starters back. Granted, it sure is nice to have a college-caliber pass rusher and one of the Mid-Penn’s best defensive backs to build around. “We’re replacing probably as many of them as I’ve replaced in my coaching career,” Foust said. “We have some work to do.” That starts up front, where Jake Kissinger and Hayden Carbaugh are expected to step into key spots on the interior, Foust said. Brock Herb (ILB) and outside ‘backers Brett Jones, David Kunkleman and Carter Funk should slide into the second level. And Carter Foust will man one of the safety positions. It’s a lot of JV and backup talent making a big leap, but Foust is confident.
3. Bigger, maybe not quite as fast: Ship had one thing in spades last year — speed — in the backfield and on the edges. Houser still provides ample take-the-top-off-the-defense juice, but the ‘Hounds will be relying on a beefier line and a few new backs (Foust named Devin Wilson, Nathan Beam and youngster Amari Kerr as the likely top rushers). In the trenches stands hulking tackles Dalton Foore and Sean Hess, 306 and 285 pounds, respectively, plus 270-pound center Ben Froio. Guards are still being sorted out. “Our offensive line could be bigger than we were last year, and we thought we were pretty big last year,” Foust said. It all provides a nice mix of heft and burst on offense.