DANVILLE — Schlarman High School will field a veteran football team this season.
Twelve seniors are on the roster and, overall, coach Mike High has the luxury of 14 lettermen.
He doesn’t have much else. The total turnout is 21 students. If there weren’t so many experienced players, that could be a problem.
Four of the Hilltoppers’ offensive line starters are third-year varsity regulars.
“We were overwhelmed as sophomores, battled as juniors and we hope for better things as seniors,” High said.
Tackles John Rogers and Mike Seilhymer are returnees as are guards Nate Ames and Spencer Tolson. At center, the eighth of eight brothers to letter at Schlarman, Joe Cahill, will step in. He’ll be a first-year starter on offense.
“With so many veterans, everything is going smoothly,” High said. “It seems like they’re more mature, have filled out a little and are a little faster.”
In the backfield, junior quarterback Clein Gard will be joined by senior runners Tyler Russell and Zack Miller, who didn’t play last year. Russell was second on the team in rushing in 2010.
Gard passed for 428 yards in seven games as a sophomore, including a five-touchdown game.
The receiving corps is headlined by two players High said are “about carbon copies,” Ron Soderstrom and Lucas Spezia. Each had five TD receptions last season.
Soderstrom was an all-conference first-teamer in 2010. Spezia and Tolson are Schlarman’s two three-year football lettermen.
Tight end Maher Samawi is another of the juniors who will contribute mightily.
Defensive ends Rogers and Ames are three-sport athletes and also the President and Vice-President, respectively, of the senior class. They were among the team leaders in off-season workouts, as was Russell.
Tolson and 350-pound Joe Sermersheim will be the defensive tackles. Cahill also figures in the rotation.
Miller, Samawi and Seilhymer are fixtures at linebacker. Spezia, senior Casey Hahne and junior Cody Carpenter are the likely safeties. Soderstrom and Russell are the cornerbacks.
Andres Molina, an exchange student from Columbia who is playing soccer, will handle the placekicking duties. Either Miller or Spezia will do the punting.
High, whose first head coaching stint at Schlarman started in 1987, is in Year 3 of his third stint with the school. Last year’s 2-7 record matched the win total from the previous five years.
Joining High on the coaching staff are Matt Bogan, Patrick Bogan, Catlin Crozier and Jack Doan.
Outside of the senior class, the coaches are working with four juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.
Schlarman opens its season at home on Friday at 7 p.m. against Martinsville.
Next: Milford/Cissna Park