Marc Wilson likes to think he’ll see a revitalized version of the Sissonville offense this season, which means a better downfield passing game.
Last year, quarterback Jackson Foster transferred in from Ripley and didn’t become the starter until midseason, so the Indians passing attack didn’t get to develop as much as Wilson would have liked.
But that changes this year now that Foster (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) is back for his senior season and has a proven target available in senior wide receiver Nick Haning (6-0, 190). Haning caught 26 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns last season.
“I think Nick Haning will have a big year for us,’’ Wilson said. “Nick kind of fell victim to our inexperience passing the ball last year.
“His ability far outweighed his production on the field. It was because we couldn’t get him the ball every time. So we really expect a lot out of him.
“On the other side of the ball, I think Braeden Murray is a very explosive player on the outside.’’
Murray (5-7, 150), a junior, is one of several newcomers at receiving spots, along with juniors Brayden Perdue (5-8, 150) and Caden Hill (6-0, 155) and sophomore Cameron Arbogast (5-8, 150). Senior Tyler Young (6-3, 200) is a part-time returning starter at tight end.
“Tyler is a big-bodied blocker,’’ Wilson said, “and we’re excited to see what he can do with the ball in this offense.’’
A dual threat under center, Foster flashed his gamebreaking speed at different times last season, running for 969 yards and eight TDs and throwing for 469 yards and five scores. He’ll have a lot of help in the backfield with the return of senior tailback Dylan Griffith (5-10, 190).
Griffith, who started out his Sissonville career as more of a receiver, carried 162 times last season for 1,083 yards and 15 touchdowns and also caught 21 passes for 280 yards and three more TDs.
Junior Jacob Carter (6-1, 220) rounds out the backfield at fullback after previously spending time at tackle and tight end.
Wilson expects some versatility from Arbogast this year coming from a variety of positions in the lineup.
“He’s kind of our everything guy,’’ Wilson said. “He has the ability to run and catch the ball. He might not start a game for us, but he may touch the ball at three different positions.
“He literally can play anywhere, from running back to slot receiver to outside receiver, and he’s willing to play all of them. So we’re excited about what we’re going to get out of him.’’
The offensive line leans on senior tackle Stevie Carpenter (6-2, 230), a four-year starter at that position. Other returning starters on the line are senior guard Ethan Wiseman (5-8, 270) and junior Seth Patton (6-0, 240).
The other tackle will be junior Virgil Smith (6-1, 270), a transfer from Nitro, and the duties at center come down a battle between senior Jacob Newhouse (5-11, 220) and sophomore Kyle Young (5-11, 230).
The defense is rebuilding in some respects following the graduation loss of two stalwarts, Gavin Shamblin and Cole Hughart, who were two of the team’s top three tacklers last season.
Carpenter, who played more defensive tackle last year, will line up at defensive end this season along with Murray. Smith will be at tackle, with Wiseman and Patton sharing nose guard duties.
A pair of three-year starters returns at outside linebacker in Griffith and Young. Carter is back at one inside backer spot, with Lucas holding down the other.
Returning at one cornerback position is senior Brian Mitchell (5-8, 155) and he’ll be joined by Perdue. Haning plays at free safety, with Arbogast “the floater’’ at both outside linebacker and free safety, according to Wilson.