GREENVILLE – With almost 20 letter winners back from last year, the Greenville football team anticipates contending for a Greater Western Ohio Conference divisional championship this season.
“We’ve got more experience than any group we’ve had so far since we’ve been here,” fifth-year Greenville varsity football coach Aaron Shaffer said. “We’re excited about the prospect of having a bunch of experienced guys.”
While the Green Wave have a lot of talent back, they’ll have to replace four-year varsity quarterback Clay Guillozet, who threw for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 847 yards and six touchdowns as a senior last season to cap off a record-setting career.
The Wave are confident that Kyle Phillips can step up and take over the reins, though. As a sophomore Phillips started four games at quarterback in relief on an injured Guillozet, and he also has seen varsity time on defense.
Phillips is a good runner with a strong arm, Shaffer said, and he’s done a good job of understanding the offense and what he needs to do to make the team successful.
“To this point Kyle has done a really nice job with those things,” Shaffer said. “Kyle’s a good leader for us. Kyle has a skillset that’s a little different than Clay’s was.”
Behind Phillips, Greenville also will have a new look with Codi Byrd lost to graduation. However, the Wave have a stable of running backs including Logan Eldridge, Justin Brown and Micah Light ready to step up.
“We feel like there won’t be much of a drop if any,” Shaffer said.
While the backfield features some new faces, Greenville’s receiving core is intact from last year with the Wave’s top four receivers all returning this season.
“Most of that group played significantly last year,” Shaffer said. “So they’re a group we feel confident in.”
Bradley Mead, Devin Hendrix, Aaron Rich, Ryan Trick, Eli Moore and Brandon Beyke will be key contributors at receiver. Rich and Noah VanHorn are the teams’ top two tight ends.
“I feel like we’ve got tremendous athleticism out on the edge,” Shaffer said.
Also fully intact from last year is Greenville’s offensive line.
Tanner Swisshelm, Carson Shilt, Braden Russell, Kaleb Anderson, Dalton Kopilec and Elias Watters make up the group paving the way for the Green Wave.
“Their experience on the field is a huge part of what’s going to make us successful offensively,” Shaffer said.
The strength of Greenville’s 3-4 defense lies in its linebackers. The group is led by Erick Madison and Logan Eldridge, who both had more than 90 tackles a year ago. Justin Brown, who had 81 tackles last season, and Micah Light also are in line for starting positions while Noah Walker is pushing them for playing time as well.
“Defensively I feel like our line backing group is probably going to be the strength of our defense,” Shaffer said. “They’re a bunch of athletic, football-intelligent kids.”
In front of the linebackers is a group of defensive linemen that includes Jacob Bradfield, Landin Brown, Karsyn Fender, Johnathan Heeter, Noah VanHorn and Braden Russell.
“We’ve got some guys up front on the defensive line who are playing well right now through camp and through the early part of the season,” Shaffer said.
In the defensive backfield Trey Wood, Bradley Mead, Devin Hendrix, Eli Moore and Landon Eldridge are competing for playing time.
Greenville has several players who are in the mix to play both offense and defense, but Shaffer is confident that the Wave’s depth will allow them to succeed playing two ways.
“With the depth at a lot of those positions we’ll be able to get other guys in there and not see a drop off,” he said.
While they’ll get rest when needed, Shaffer also expects the Green Wave’s offseason conditioning to pay dividends for the players.
“Our players have done a really nice job this summer of getting themselves in shape,” he said.
With an athletic team full of experience, Shaffer thinks Greenville will have a strong season and contend for a championship.
“If we take care of our business each individual week that helps take care of our ultimate goal, which is to be GWOC North champs,” he said.
The GWOC and the GWOC North have a new look this season with Tippecanoe and Stebbins joining the league. Tipp now is a GWOC North member, replacing Trotwood-Madison who moves to the GWOC South.
The divisional change won’t affect Greenville much as Greenville already played Tippecanoe as a non-conference opponent, and the Wave will continue to play Trotwood as a cross-divisional opponent.
“It’s an exciting time in the GWOC in terms of adding teams and realignment, but for us it really didn’t change much,” Shaffer said.
The Wave’s biggest scheduling change is no longer having to play Division I GWOC teams such as Fairmont and Lebanon that dwarfed Greenville in terms of enrollment. The new scheduling format should have more quality match ups and benefit all the teams in the league, Shaffer said.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.