By Phil Anastasia
Last year: 6-5 (4-1, share of first in WJFL National)
Countdown to Kickoff: Shawnee training camp
Coach: Tim Gushue (201-97-6 enteriong 31st season)
Opener: Sept. 12 at Kingsway, 7
Player to watch: Senior running back/linebacker Anthony DiOrio (pictured) ran for 7 TDs and averaged 5.5 yards per carry as a junior. A four-year starter on defense, DiOrio led the team with 142 tackles and was an all-conference selection. A top student, he is leaning toward following his brother Rob -- a 2013 Shawnee graduate now playing spring football for Penn -- into the Ivy League, perhaps at Princeton or Dartmouth.
Outlook: Shawnee has some experience in both backfields and strong special teams. The Renegades will be rebuilding a bit along both lines and at quarterback, where talented sophomore Mike Welsh is expected to start. DiOrio should be the top ball-carrier and defensive leader. He will be joined at LB by standout junior Chris Corley. The secondary is strong with veterans Dylan McCaughn, Nick Corbi and Kyle Borbi, who also is an experienced wide receiver. Senior Reece Tursi is a veteran on the OL and senior Pat Blair is a veteran on the DL but both of those groups will feature some inexperienced players. The special teams should be strong with returning ASJ punter in Mike Caffrey (who averaged 40.7 yards per punt) as well as kicker Joe Lynn. This looks like a solid, well-coached team that should be in position to win somewhere between six and eight games, contend for the division title and qualify for the SJ 4 playoffs, depending on variables such as injuries. The Renegades have been hit hard by injuries in recent seasons; they might be due a relatively healthy season.
Schedule: The opener will go a long way to toward determining the WJFL National title, as Kingsway and Shawnee look like co-favorites on paper. That should be a pivotal game for both teams, and will go a long way in SJ 4 playoff seeding, too. The next week, Shawnee hosts Group 5 power Williamstown Sept. 20, so that adds even more importance to the opener. There's an Oct. 11 home game with Clearview (which upset Shawnee last season) and a Oct. 18 home game against school-district rival Cherokee. Shawnee plays at Lenape on Thanksgiving morning.
Quote: "Before I leave I want to win," DiOrio said.
-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter