WEATHERSFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – Mineral Ridge took a step in the right direction in 2019 in their first year with Brian Shaner at the helm, a 5-5 season, just their second non-losing campaign since 2014.
“With Coach Shaner here and this particular group of coaches, it is kind of like a revival of the program,” said senior lineman Jordan Elswick.
“I still say they are up here. That McDonald program, Western Reserve, we have to find a way to reel them in and close that gap,” Shaner said. “Last year was a start and we just have to build on that and get better each and every year.”
The potential to close the gap even more this year is there.
The Rams return nine starters on defense and nearly every skill position on the offensive side of the ball, including running back Shakir Perkins — a senior this year — who played in just five games last year.
“I think he is one of the top backs in the area,” Shaner said.
In those five games, Perkins rushed for 579 yards and four touchdowns on 86 carries. You can bet he will be seeing more of the ball this year.
“If he don’t touch it 20, then I am not doing my job,” Shaner said. “That is our plan. If I don’t get that kid the ball, whether it is in the passing game, the running game or some special teams, he is just that dynamic of a kid.”
“That makes me feel great,” Perkins said. “From sophomore year I was just JV, and then junior year playing five games straight varsity just makes me feel great. Oh, I am ready for the role, I just want to get W’s for the team.”
Perkins will surely help take the pressure off new quarterback Mark Bunch. That and the weapons he has to throw the ball to in what could be a dynamic Rams offense.
“We have to find a way to get our guys in space and take some pressure off that young offensive line because we are very, very athletic and run really well,” Shaner said.
“Our young quarterback, he is already looking good,” said senior wide receiver Randall Miller. “Looking sharp. So we are going to try and help him out as much as possbile this year and like you said, all he has to do is get us the ball and we can make stuff happen.”