Despite low participation numbers following a coaching change late last spring, the Whetstone High School football team matched last year's record, finishing 3-7 overall after losing to Centennial 32-27 on Oct. 26.
"Overall, it was a fairly good season for us because the kids bought in to what we were trying to do and the rallied around each other," first-year coach Tom Jones said. "They saw the fruits of their labor in a few wins and saw how well they could compete despite being outnumbered in almost every game. They proved they could be right there.
"We lost two games by a total of 10 points and were in the game until the fourth quarter in two others. Obviously, we've got to add some depth because that could've changed the outcome in four of our losses and we'd be talking about a great season. We also played a lot of young guys this season and I expect them to be better next year. So, all of that bodes well."
Jones was named coach in June, replacing Don Poff, who stepped down after compiling a 25-35 record in six seasons.
Whetstone's roster consisted of just over 30 players before injuries and defections dropped that number.
The Braves, who went 2-4 in the City League-North Division to tie Mifflin for fifth behind champion Northland (6-0), are losing only three seniors in Antwan Allen (DL), Dorian Jordan (RB/LB/DB) and Mike Woodard (OL/LB).
"Those three had an impact on this team and will be hard to replace," Jones said. "Woodard was our center the (last) three years and the glue on the offensive line. He'll definitely be missed. I don't think people recognize how much importance a center has on an offense."
Woodard was named first-team all-league, while Jordan was second-team all-league and Allen was honorable mention all-league.
Jordan rushed for 635 yards and six touchdowns on 105 carries for an average of 6.0 yards per carry.
"Dorian and (junior quarterback Rashaun Broomfield) accounted for probably 90 percent of our offensive production," Jones said. "We'll be looking for more guys to step up and be involved next year. I know we have some guys, but we've got to have enough bodies to get them in the right positions. Some of our players could've helped in the backfield this year, but we need to put them in other spots for the good of the team."
Broomfield rushed for 741 yards and 11 touchdowns and was 36-for-76 passing for 548 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. He was named first-team all-league, as was junior Ben Paugh (RB/LB/P).
Junior Anthony Riccio (OL/DL) and sophomore Zane Fent (OL/DL) both were second-team all-league, while making honorable mention were sophomores Darric McClinton (RB/DB) and Khris Watkins-Sellers (WR/DB).
Other expected returnees include juniors Gabe Jordan (WR), Johnny Kincaid (WR), Anthony Mirando (WR/DB) and Elijah Rhein-Murray (OL/DL), sophomores Joren Clem (K), Zach Falor (OL/DL), Alex Hurd (WR) and Sam Mahan (OL) and freshman Tyrique Edwards (OL).
"We need to work hard in the offseason and come back bigger and stronger," Jones said. "We need to have our expected returnees actually return next season and we need to add depth. We need depth just to practice against, let alone to stay fresh in the second half of games."