With only six total starters returning, Grand Island Senior High enters the 2016 season as an inexperienced team overall.
The one exception is along the lines.
The Islanders return two starters on both the offensive and defensive lines. That experience combined with good depth could make the lines the foundation of the team’s success.
“When you have a veteran line, a lot of things tend to fall into place,” Grand Island coach Jeff Tomlin said. “It’s when you’re breaking in new linemen or a bunch of new linemen that continuity gets put into jeopardy a little bit. So I feel really good about our foundation up front on both sides of the ball.
“Then with that solid foundation, we can just build on it in every other position from the backfield to the receiving corps to the linebackers to the secondary.”
Griffin Wenz, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior, is the lone two-way starter back at offensive tackle and defensive end.
Ashtyn Keezer (6-1, 240, sr.) returns at offensive tackle while senior Colin Carroll (5-11, 250, sr.) is back at defensive tackle.
The Islanders have enough depth along the lines that there should be some regular rotations taking place during games.
“There will be some positions like offensive guard where we will have three starters because we need to get a three-way rotation going to keep guys fresh,” Tomlin said. “The same with offensive tackle – we could have three starters. Defensive end is a lot that way.
“There are positions we feel like we don’t have a lot of depth and there are positions that we feel like we do. But we have a pretty good feel about where things are at.”
Carroll said the defensive line is ready for the challenges it will face.
“We’re emphasizing on staying low, shooting and knocking them back,” he said.