Lebanon won its first district championship since 2010 last year by beating Ozark 35-17 in the Class 5, District 4 championship game. The Yellowjackets saw their season end with a 42-7 loss to Ft. Zumwalt North in the quarterfinal round to finish with an overall record of 8-4.
Five all-conference selections graduated from last year’s team. None will be tougher to replace than third-team all-state running back John Berry. He rushed for 2,396 yards and 27 touchdowns on 321 carries last year. Third-team all-state defensive end Cannon York also graduated.
“Coming off a District Championship and State Quarterfinal year our focus has been to grow and improve. We want more in our program and understand that in order to do that we have to put in more. We have really focused on our intensity in our training and I think the kids have done a great job. I’m excited about several returning kids who got 12 games experience last year and playoff experience. I think we will be an experienced team with tons of potential. We will have to have a very intense and driven summer. We will have to desire to obsess over little things all year,” Lebanon head coach Will Christian said.
The Yellowjackets bring back nine players that started at least one game on offense and 11 that started at least one game on defense.
Senior free safety Ty Glendenning will key the defense after earning third-team all-state honors as a junior. He will be joined in the secondary by fellow seniors Jayden Ivey and Curtis Mobley. All three players started all 12 games last season.
The linebacking corps have experience back with senior Dalton Shaddy at inside linebacker and Tyler Paul at outside linebacker. Each started at least eight games last year. Shaddy is the team’s leading returning tackler with 46 solo tackles last year. Junior Troy Reynolds will also be at linebacker after pulling down 39 tackles last season.
Seniors Jason McDermitt and Devein Denigin will anchor the defensive front playing opposite each other at defensive end.
Offensively, the line will be a strength for the Yellowjackets with Malik Culp and Cole Godwin both back for their senior seasons after starting all 12 games last year. Culp also earned third-team all-state honors on the line. Senior Race Cottingham along with juniors Jordan Lewis, Kolby Dorris and Mason DeVasure will provide depth on the offensive line after seeing starts last year.
Joey Boshe appears poised to take over duties as the main running back as a senior. He carried the ball 75 times of 644 yards and six touchdowns last year. Ivey will also factor into the running game this year.
Lebanon opens the season on Friday, Aug. 24 at home against Kickapoo.