The names and numbers are the same, but for some Warrensburg football players, 2018 means a new position.
Seniors Jaason Levine and Ejyah Sheridan will be swapping positions with Levine returning to the starting quarterback role and Sheridan moving into an all-purpose back slot.
“The idea there is (Sheridan) is one of our best football players and we are not going to put him in a box and limit him to the quarterback position,” Warrensburg coach Chris Cavanah, who is entering his second year as the Tigers head coach, said. “We are going to let him play running back, we are going to let him play defense, he is going to return kicks and punts, and if we want him to play some quarterback, we can play some wildcat.
Sheridan started eight of 11 games last year before missing the final three games due to suspension. In that time, he went 47 of 105 for 561 yards and six touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Levine helmed the Tigers for the final three games after playing much of the year at wide receiver. The senior is no stranger to the quarterback role after holding the role as a sophomore.
“Jaason is our quarterback right now,” Cavanah said. “We are putting as much skill and athleticism on the field as we can.”
Adding to the athleticism is junior Miles Moore, who had a breakout season as a sophomore rushing for 501 yards and six touchdowns.
“I think Miles is one of the best backs in the conference, and I believe he will prove that,” Cavanah said.
Senior Colby Benge will provide some depth at the running back spot to go along with Sheridan and Moore.
An improved offensive line with four starters back will open the holes for the multitude of running options the Tigers posses led by senior Tanner Karnes at center and junior Jackson Meldrem.
“I feel like we are much improved over last year,” Cavanah said. “They are smart, they are athletic and we feel like we have an offense that is tailored to what they can do well.”
Replacing leading receiver Dalton Nappe — 40 catches for 685 yards and nine touchdowns — will be a tall order for Warrensburg as he accounted for 66 percent of the Tigers receptions.
Former backup quarterback junior Aiden McGee, listed at 6 feet 1 inch, senior LJ Lewis and Sheridan will be tasked with filling the void left by Nappe.
There also will be three new faces patrolling the sidelines for Warrensburg as the Tigers added some big time names to its coaching staff.
Jonathan Schoonover joins the staff after a year as an assistant with Harrisonville. Schoonover is widely known in the 8-man ranks as he built North Andrew into a dynasty going 62-2 in five seasons with three state championships. His lone two losses came in the Cardinals other two state championship game appearances.
Brett Cavanah, a former Central Missouri lineman and arena league All-Pro with the Witichita Wild, is the brother of Chris Cavanah along with John Culp, a former head coach at Warrensburg and state title winner as an assistant at Blue Springs, will help shape the linemen.
“That was an area that we wanted to address in the offseason, and we were certainly able to bring some guys in who can,” Chris Cavanah said.
All told ,Warrensburg now has five assistants with head coaching experience.
“I can delegate so many things to these guys,” Cavanah said. “There are five guys on our coaching staff that have head coaching experience, so I am not afraid to give responsibility to these guys because they can handle it.”
The 2018 season will be the first for Warrensburg in the Missouri River Valley Conference West, competing for a confernce title against Excelsior Springs, Harrisonville, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, Odessa and Pleasant Hill.
“The expectation this year is to improve on what we did last year,” Cavanah said. “We want a better record, be a better football team in all phases of the game.”
Warrensburg opens the season at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, on the road against California
Colby Benge, Kaleb Downing, Nick Edmiston, Cyrus Gleason, Dylan Godfrey, Layne Haralson, Tanner Karnes, Jaason Levine, LJ Lewis, Andrew Prim, Zack Reed, Kobe Robertson, Ejyah Sheridan.
Roy Amieva, Carter Bell, Ashton Bricker, Tyler Brown, Cory Conley, Corbin Cowick, Ayden Dennis, Evan Florida, Xavier Hardin, Jordan Helmig, Karson Hillman, Kaden Maxwell, Ayden McGee, Jackson Meldrem, Miles Moore, Torraye Payne, Dane Sproat, John Stoverink, Calahan Taylor, Chance Volesky, Jackson Wynn.
Ethen Albert, Cooper Berry, Jaden Blew, Mason Chapman, Matthew Finnane, Shawn Gatchell, Michael Hart, Tommy Hong, Shawnacy Johnson, Eli Nappe, Tristan Newbill, Shelby Pittsenbarger, Chase Rylander, Brad Sachs, Mason Sutherland, Jared Tarr, Conner Wyatt, Ashton Zeilke.
Gavin Bell, Brendan Bromwell, Jason Cho, Caleb Deuschle, James Finch, Trayce Graff, Landon Johnson, Dawson Joyner, Mark Lewis, Cooper Meldrem, Zach Munsterman, Keegan Newberry, Luke Othic, Andrew Price, Richard Rankin, Isaac Robertson, Bryce Schoonover, Caleb Shoop, Nathan Skahan, Riley Vaughn, Aiden Walker, Gavin Wyatt, Randall Young.
Head coach: Chris Cavanah
Assistant coach: Brett Cavanah
Assistant coach: Doug Conley
Assistant coach: Jay Fleeman
Assistant coach: Jonathan Schoonover
Assistant coach: Brad Small
Assistant coach: Andrew Wakeman
Assistant coach: Dave Wanninger
Aug. 17, at Clinton Jamboree, 7 p.m.
Aug. 24, at California, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31, Marshall, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7, at Smith-Cotton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14, Clinton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21, Pleasant Hill, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28, at Harrisonville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5, at Odessa, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12, Excelsior Springs, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19, Oak Grove, 7 p.m.
BOLD indicates home games