Utica High School boys basketball first-year coach Eric Sheck came into a nice situation.

Utica High School boys basketball first-year coach Eric Sheck came into a nice situation.

Zach Walton, a 6-foot-4 wing player now playing at Marietta, has graduated and former coach Mike DeLaney has moved to Big Walnut. Both played key roles in the team's recent rejuvenation.

Still, plenty of experience returns and four standouts have been named captains. They are seniors Charlie Branstool, Michael Sandman and Kelsey Harriman and junior Justin Dassylva, a 6-foot-1 point guard and third-year starter who averaged 14 points and five assists a year ago as the Redskins finished 19-3 overall and 13-1 in the MBC to win a second consecutive title. Walton averaged 18.5 points and made first-team all-district in Division II, with the Redskins making their first trip to a district semifinal since 1992 before losing to second-seeded DeSales 65-55.

Utica went 56-29 in DeLaney's four seasons, including 48-16 the past three years. It won a tournament game for the first time since 2001 in DeLaney's second season and a league title for the first time since 1993 the next season.

Sheck retained assistants Brian Radabaugh and Tracey Robinson, which has helped in the transition.

"I like where I'm at, where the team's at," said Sheck, who will make his debut Saturday at home against Cardington. "There are opportunities here for somebody else to step up, myself and the players included."

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Branstool gives the lineup a wide body to complement the 6-6 Sandman in the post. Harriman can handle the ball and brings intensity at the defensive end.

The other seniors are left-handed forward Joie Caplin and guards Kyle Radabaugh and Matthew Coad.

Also look for juniors Kevin Walton, Kyle Walton and Austin Boggs and sophomores Jason Hoar and Scott Cline.

Caplin, Hoar and Cline played key roles as the football team finished 7-3 and nearly made the playoffs for the first time since 2000. The Walton twins bring shooting range and the 6-3 Boggs could help inside.

The Redskins won 14 consecutive games at one point a year ago, 12 of which came in MBC play. It's likely the run of success will continue despite the changes and fresh challenges. All three of Licking County's MBC schools have new coaches, including Kevin Martin at Johnstown and 2000 Utica graduate John Wheeler at Northridge.

"I've been watching tape (from last season), but with all the new coaches in the league I'm not sure what to expect," said Sheck, who is teaching history at Utica and spent the past four years assisting at Dresden Tri-Valley, which won the Muskingum Valley League every season. "I know we've got competitive kids and that's something you just can't teach."