Photo by Bill Roseberry
Roxana coach Pat Keith
Playoffs are foremost on the mind of eighth-year Shells’ head coach Pat Keith. And why not?
Roxana has qualified for IHSA postseason play each of the last two years after missing the playoffs since 2003. Roxana went 8-3 in 2014 and 7-3 last season.
“That’s always the goal — get to the playoffs — and it will be a challenge this year,” Keith said. “We also want to be in the mix of things in the South Central Conference.”
The Shells travel to Carlinville in their season opener Friday and then go to Pana, so they should find out in a hurry where they will fit into the SCC fold.
“A lot of how we do this season will depend how quickly we mature on both sides of the ball and if we can stay healthy,” Keith said. “There will be a learning curve.”
Junior running back Jordan Hawkins intends to lead the Shells around the curve. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Hawkins ran for 1,079 yards and accounted for 13 touchdowns last season. And those statistics came in eight games because he started the first two on the offensive line.
“He’s definitely stronger, a workhorse and a key for us,” Keith said. “But it’s not just him on our offense.”
Junior Marcus Hartnett takes over at quarterback since Zach Golenor decided to concentrate on basketball.
Hawkins will double on the defensive line and Hartnett in the secondary. Linemen Ryan Harris, Trey Kelly and Sam Mosby, plus 6-5 receiver Cody McMillan also could be pivotal players.
Longtime coach Mike McKinney expects to get a quick look at the Shells during their season-opening tournament this week in Milazzo Gym. Roxana is aiming to improve on last year’s 14-20 record.
“We had a good summer and we’re looking to have a successful season,” said McKinney, starting his 22nd season with the Shells. Overall, he has served as a head coach for 28 years.
He added, “I’m optimistic this is going to be a good year and we want to make sure we are competitive There are no guarantees about how many wins we will get, but I think this will be the best year for our senior group.”
Senior setter Niah Bevolo, defender Abby Palen and hitter Taylor Westfall should ignite the Shells. Juniors Brittany Alexander, Braeden Lackey and Hannah Kelley, plus sophomores Taylor Jackson, Lindsey Cameron and Abby Kurth, supply depth.
Roxana boys’ coach Jeff Pare expects 2016 to be a work in progress.
Scott Anderson, a junior, may emerge at the Shells’ leader. He shot a 6-over-par 78 to lead them in the Madison County Tournament. Sophomore Brandon Kalley and junior Justin Dearduff also figure in the plans, as do seniors Zach Golenor and Jacob Maguire.
It’s the first season of varsity competition for Golenor and Maguire. Golenor played varsity football last fall.
Junior Bailey Sharpmack, a sectional qualifier as a sophomore last year, is back to lead the Shells.
Sharpmack also capped a strong 2015 season by finishing in a three-way tie for first place in South Central Conference competition.
Senior Skylynn Valie, juniors Amanda Morgan and Linzi Sweetin, plus freshmen Mabel Montano and Sandra Jackson, figure to contribute for coach Krissy Little’s squad.
Coach Michael Kathriner brings back three of team’s top six players in all-SCC selections Sydney Owsley, Haley Milazzo and Sara Kreutztrager.
Owsley, a senior, also qualified for state last fall and won three matches there.
Jessica Levan, Anna-Marie Bailey, Delaney Tyler, Amanda Orr, Hannah Robinson, Emily Shelton, Autumn Shelton, Abby Gegen, Lauren Gegen and Maddie Pirtle are jockeying for varsity spots.
Seniors James Henseler, Dakota Stumpf, Will Cotter and Jazz Richardson could be among the frontrunners for Roxana’s boys, seventh in last year’s Class 1A New Athens Regional.
Head coach Scott Edwards said the Shells intend to build on last year’s sectional appearance and advance to state.
As for the girls, he hopes they can make their fourth trip in the last six years to the Class 1A state finals in Peoria. Shalyn Edwards, Michaela and Victoria Tarpley, along with Sarah Stover and Jaidyn Peebles, could power them.
First-year head coach Jamie Futrell, a 2002 Roxana High graduate, senses the Shells are heading in the right direction this fall. Roxana went 7-13-1 last season.
Seniors Brendan Zeller and Drew Ratliff will be joined by seniors Kyrell Anderson and Jacob Carpenter in providing leadership. Sophomore twins Dawson and Dylan Klunk also could emerge as key players. Dawson is a goalie and Dylan a forward. Juniors Derek Ogle, Logan Presley, Tyler Svoboda and Domonic Weigler add to the mix.
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