SHELBINA, Mo. -- Rob Wilt is in an enviable position even with having to replace one of the best all-around athletes in South Shelby history.
That's what depth will do.
The South Shelby football coach is blessed with a roster 36 players deep -- a far cry from the 23 players they had in the program last season. One of those players was Brock Wood, an all-state ballcarrier and return man who rushed for more than 2,100 yards before winning three state track championships last spring.
Wood was one of only three seniors the Cardinals lost, leading to a wealth of returning experience.
"Some of the younger kids are getting to reap the benefits of not having many numbers last season," Wilt said. "They were forced to play and they return with that experience and that game knowledge."
Moreso, they mix well with a sizable freshman class to create a bona fide scout team.
"All of the coaches were talking about how good the scout team is and how much better it is making us," Wilt said. "It's not like running a hot knife through butter going against our scout team. It's a lot more challenging. It's going to make us better as the year goes on."
It's also going to show who is capable of carrying the load Wood shouldered.
Wilt listed a series of guys who should see time in the backfield, like senior Daniel Burke, who rushed for 521 yards and six touchdowns last season. Cason Wilt could get carries from the fullback spot, while David Fenton and Wyatt Owens have earned carries as well.
Don't be surprised to see the Cardinals throw the ball some, too. Senior tight end Guy Timbrook and wideout Shaun Fulkerson are viable options.
"It's not going to be one guy with 30 carries," Wilt said. "We'd like to spread it out and use several different kids,"
Many of those same names anchor the defense, with everything centering around linebacker Cason Wilt. He had 128 total tackles and 23 tackles for loss and is the kind of old-school defender the Cardinals have turned loose on the Clarence Cannon Conference over the years. Timbrook is an imposing edge rusher, and Burke had five interceptions last season.
That's a dynamic trio to build a defense around, but Rob Wilt believes his unit is deeper and more determined to be stout.
"I think defense is our strength," the coach said. "They know the scheme real well, and they like to hit. We hope people have to strap that chin strap up pretty good when they come here."
Inside the huddle
Who: South Shelby Cardinals
2018 record: 5-7 (2-5 Clarence Cannon Conference).
Coach: Rob Wilt (94-56 at South Shelby, 13th season).
Players to watch: FB/LB Cason Wilt, 5-11, 220, Sr.; RB/DB Daniel Burke, 6-1, 175, Sr.; TE/DE Guy Timbrook, 6-4, 180, Sr.; RB/DB Wyatt Owens, 5-10, 140, Soph.
Schedule: Aug. 30 at Bowling Green; Sept. 6 at Putnam County; Sept. 13 at Macon; Sept. 20 vs. Palmyra; Sept. 27 vs. Clark County; Oct. 4 at Monroe City; Oct. 11 vs. Centralia; Oct. 18 at Brookfield; Oct. 25 vs. Highland.