The depth on the Platte County sideline will likely be a bit thinner this season. It will most certainly be younger.
The Pirates began practice last week with only six seniors on the roster, leaving coach Bill Utz with the youngest team in his seven-year tenure.
“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t see it coming,” Utz said. “We’ve seen the attrition as they were coming up. The biggest concern in what we’re suffering is finding those leaders. We don’t have a lot of kids who have gone through the ranks where they feel confident in doing that.”
Platte County is hopeful linebacker Topher Kilkenny can handle those duties for the defense and wide receiver Aliek Reed can fill the same role for the offense. They are two of the lone seniors on the team.
In addition to being the top option in a spread offense, Reed will also return punts and kickoffs. Sophomore Justin Mitchell is the leading candidate to take over at quarterback in the shotgun formation, though the position is still an open competition, Utz said.
Mitchell could be one of several sophomores in line to see a bevy of plenty time for Platte County, which won the Suburban Blue Conference two years ago before finishing 4-6 last season.
But that won’t change the expectations.
“We don’t want to rebuild — I don’t care if we’re a senior-heavy team or not,” Utz said. “We want these young kids learning early in the season so that by Week 5 or 6, they’re playing as juniors instead of sophomores, and then those spots are solidified. We’ve got some juniors who are ready to step up and play, too.”