(Shenandoah) -- Shenandoah opens another football season on Friday night when they travel to AHSTW. The Mustangs are hoping to improve on a 2-7 record from a year ago.
“I thought (the offseason) went great, considering the guidelines we had to follow,” Coach Ty Ratliff told KMA Sports. “The kids did a great job of following the procedures and safety precautions. We had a good turnout all summer in the weight room and during football workouts.”
Shenandoah brings back three all-district performers from last season in junior Morgan Cotten and seniors Avery Martin and Zayne Zwickel. More than anything, those three and several other returnees are starting to feel more and more comfortable in Coach Ratliff’s schemes as he enters year three.
“I think the kids understand the expectations,” Ratliff said, “and what we’re doing on offense and defense. It makes everything easier going in, and the kids are a lot more comfortable in their positions. We moved some kids to different spots, but I think, overall, the kids have it figured out.”
Zwickel will guide this year’s offense under center after picking up several games of experience late in the year due to an injury to graduated-senior Kyle Cerven.
“We had (Zwickel at offseason workouts) every day,” Ratliff said. “Morgan Cotten, Ty Rogers, Cain Lorimor, Blake Herold. A lot of our guys that will see a lot of time on the field did an excellent job leading by example (this summer).”
The Mustangs will open with AHSTW on Friday evening. The Vikings were 5-4 last year, including a 35-27 win over Shenandoah.
“Their QB (Blake Holst) does a great job,” Ratliff said. “He’s able to run, and he can pass pretty well. They like the flood concepts that really hurt us last year. We’ve tried to emphasize getting to our zones and aligning to be sure we’re prepared better in those areas.”
Holst threw for 220 yards in the win over Shenandoah last season, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to returning junior Raydden Grobe.
“(Grobe) is a great athlete,” Ratliff said. “He made some good jump ball catches against us last year. Hopefully, we’ve got some guys that can make some plays on those this year.”
While slowing down the Vikings passing game appears paramount, Ratliff says the little things that can turn into big things are always important in any football game, especially the season opener.
“One of the biggest things is controlling the football,” he said. “We can’t have turnovers and need to minimize mental mistakes. We can’t have the offsides, the false starts, things like that. Execution (is important). Getting to where we’re supposed to block and understanding the different schemes (AHSTW) will run on defense and executing against them.”
KMA Sports will have play-by-play of Shenandoah/AHSTW on Friday evening on our KMAX-Stream2. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 PM with Austin McNorton and Tom Moore. Listen to the complete interview with Coach Ratliff linked below.