Marcus Penn is expected to wear jersey No. 1 for the Whetstone High School football team, but the number to remember in relation to the senior is 35.

Marcus Penn is expected to wear jersey No. 1 for the Whetstone High School football team, but the number to remember in relation to the senior is 35.

That number represents how many times per game the Braves plan to have their 6-foot-1, 195-pounder touch the ball when they're on offense.

Last year, Penn finished with more than 1,000 all-purpose yards as a running back, wide receiver and special-teams return man. This season, he will be the featured running back, also could see time at quarterback and wide receiver in some sets and will start at inside linebacker.

Penn, who verbally committed in July to play for Eastern Michigan, has been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40.

"Sometimes we'll move him out to the slot or to wide receiver, and in our wildcat formation, he might see the ball behind center," coach Jim Worden said. "Going in at halftime we'll look at our touch chart to see how many touches he has. We need to let our playmakers get the ball."

In his first season last year, Worden installed a spread offense that centered on a pair of 2009 graduates, running back Michael Haynes (1,340 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns) and quarterback Mario Dovell (508 yards and nine touchdowns rushing, seven touchdowns passing).

Junior Quinten Wright (5-9, 170) started at quarterback the last three games after Dovell was lost for the season with an injury. Wright is back as the starter.

Senior Joe Tuttle (5-9, 155) also returns at running back, with senior Matt Harrington (5-10, 200) and juniors Jordan Mitchell (5-9, 175) and Isaiah Bishop (5-10, 185) also in the backfield.

Senior Justin Phillips (5-9, 175) and junior Joe Saffold (5-7, 150) will be at wide receiver, with senior Brian Ridley (6-2, 195) and sophomore Kyle Radabaugh (5-11, 180) at tight end.

Senior Darrick Drew (LG, 6-0, 180), junior Cliff Wiltshire (RG, 5-11, 240) and senior Isaac Wojciechowski (C, 6-4, 240) return after seeing significant action on the offensive line last year and will be joined by junior Tyler Gabalski (LT, 6-0, 180) and freshman Joel Paige Jr. (RT, 6-5, 260). Senior Tad Millington (6-0, 280), junior Will Nargang (6-0, 205) and sophomore Austyn Brown (6-0, 240) also are expected to see action.

"We've got some big spots to fill from last year, but we're coming together really well," Penn said. "I think our running game is going to be our strength right now. We've got a nice line that blocks hard."

In the 4-4 defense, each of the linebackers might play inside or outside, and the lineman also will rotate between ends and tackles.

Although Penn could end up playing safety in college after finishing with 98 tackles and three interceptions last year, he likely will be at inside linebacker along with Bishop. Juniors James Knapp (5-8, 180) and Jordan Mitchell (5-9, 175) and sophomore Isaiah Hayes (5-9, 175) should be on the outside. Drew, Gabalski, Ridley and sophomore Skyler Farley (5-9, 175) are expected to see most of the action on the line.

The secondary should feature Tuttle at free safety and Hayes, Saffold, Wright and junior Nick Bolyard (5-7, 170) at cornerback.

Penn should be the primary kick and punt returner. Phillips is expected to be the punter and sophomore Maurice McPherson likely will be the kicker.

Although Whetstone went 7-3 last year, it finished just 19th in the Division II, Region 7 computer ratings.

The Braves won each of their non-league games, but those three opponents combined to finish just 5-25.

While Whetstone again plays Briggs (Aug. 28), it has replaced Central Crossing with Independence (Sept. 4) and Columbus South with Dayton Dunbar (Sept. 11). Both of its new opponents were Division II playoff qualifiers last year.