ST. JOSEPH — A pattern has resurfaced within the St. Joseph-Ogden football team.
The last two years the Spartans advanced to a state championship game (2006 and 1999), the roster had a bevy of seniors. The ’06 squad had 15, including eight who started on offense. The ’99 team had 18 seniors, six of whom were offensive regulars.
In recent years, SJ-O’s senior turnout has been down. A year ago, when the Spartans were 9-2, there were nine seniors.
This fall, coach Dick Duval is working with 17 seniors.
“You win with seniors,” Duval said. “This has been a pretty solid class all four years.”
For those who want additional similarity between this year’s edition of the Spartans and the ’06 and ’99 teams, it’s that each has had a member of the Koss family on the roster. Mitchell Koss was on the ’99 finalists, and Aaron Koss played for the ’06 runners-up.
This year, Duval expects to find a lineup spot for twins Dylan and Ryan Koss, both of whom are linemen.
“They’ve done a great job,” Duval said. “One was there for every (summer) workout, and the other missed one.”
Duval expects virtually all of the 17 seniors to make an impact. “If they’re not starting on offense or defense, we’ll probably use them on special teams,” he said. “We’ll try to play as many as we can.”
Of the 54 players on the Spartans’ varsity roster, the main offensive position for 29 of them is in the line.
“I’ve talked with (line coach) Marshall Schacht. We have a bunch of kids who are about the same, a bunch who can play,” Duval said. “We have an extreme number of linemen. We’ll try to have no lineman going both ways.”
Seth Griswell started at center last year but may be shifted to tackle, though Duval said, “For a lot of teams, he might be the starting tight end. He may have the best hands on the team.”
Standout baseball players Hunter Hart and Jake Stewart could be among the receivers that veteran quarterback Dalton Walsh seeks out. Walsh threw for 1,270 yards as a junior, seventh best in the area.
SJ-O opens its season Aug. 30 at home against Marshall.