Classes don't begin at Shippensburg Area Senior High School until later this month, but the Greyhound football team is already hard at work spending the summer preparing for a fall of high expectations.
Greyhound football officially kicked off the 2019 campaign with the start of “heat week” practices Monday evening at Shippensburg Area Senior High School. The team practiced without pads Tuesday as part of the week-long mandatory heat acclimation period. They took part in numerous drills before ending the night by going over the team's defensive schemes and play calls.
The Hounds have adopted the same all-business mindset from a year ago, which garnered them a 9-1 regular season record and a berth in the District 3 5A quarterfinals. The moment they stepped off the field after their quarterfinal loss to York High last November, the team's sole focus has been improving on last year’s record, winning the Colonial Division title and going even further in the postseason.
“The entire summer we've been in the weight room working out, getting in shape so we can be ahead of everybody for the first day of practice and the first game,” junior wide receiver/defensive back Isaiah Houser said following practice Tuesday. “We want to have an undefeated season, it is something that we couldn't do last year. We want to win the division and go as far as we want to. We control our own destiny.”
“We came back from team camp [at Bloomsburg] a couple weeks ago and we looked really good there. We've continued that out here [at practice] and we plan on continuing it throughout the season,” noted senior linebacker/wide receiver Nick Gustafson.
Gustafson continued, “We are a very veteran crew. We have our whole line from last year back, as well as our quarterback, receivers, and some of our running backs. That gives us a lot of confidence leading into this year.”
According to head coach Eric Foust, the Greyhounds' preseason battles are all centered in areas where they have tremendous depth.
“Our linebacker positions is a preseason battle because we have a lot of good ones. With our running backs, it's not a battle so much as it trying to figure out how to get the ball to all of the bodies we have,” noted Greyhound head football coach Eric Foust. “Every problem we have right now is a good problem. We are pretty happy with where we are [at this point].”
The 2019 season is also notable because it will be the Greyhounds' last season playing their home games down the street at Veterans Stadium. They are set to move into a new $2.2 million turf stadium at the high school in the fall of 2020.
The players that will get to play on the new turf field are more excited than they are nostalgic. For the seniors, they want to send their high school careers – and the Veterans Stadium era of Greyhound football – out with a bang.
“Us seniors we are going to try our hardest and work hard every game regardless. It's our last time on the field,” mentioned senior running back Alex Sharrow.
“I like playing at Veterans Stadium,” Gustafson said. “I'd like to have a really successful year at the stadium to give it a proper good-bye.”
The Shippensburg Greyhounds kickoff the 2019 season on the road with a Week 1 contest against the Dover Eagles Friday, August 23 at 7 p.m.