SHERIDAN —Most of the Bronc seniors’ Facebook pages have the same photo posted, somewhere near the top.
Fourteen friends on a camping trip, huddled together with arms over shoulders, some smiling, some not. A ragtag crew you might want on your side if things went south.
There’s an unavoidable leadership shift from year-to-year in prep football, and the picture is one indicator that 2013 Sheridan Broncs have that part of a new year taken care of.
It’s not hard to find others.
Last season’s natural leader Collin Eisenman is gone, to Chadron State, but there seems to be a few who are following just that, his lead.
Under head coach Don Julian, each season at a team end of year banquet, a football is passed on, representing a torch, signaling a changing of the guard from class to class. Eisenman last year handed the ball to linebacker and fullback Ethan Hall, who seems to be running with it.
“I truly believe that it all came together at the beginning of the summer at camp, slowly with things like working out together (all summer), and then going to all these different football camps. That’s when we started building that bond,” Hall said Wednesday in between two-a-days. “Then, a few weeks before the season started, we really set ourselves as leaders and started to become the best we could be. We just stepped up as seniors.”
Sheridan lost three of its four All-State selections from a year ago, with lineman Cody Delk — a two-time All-American wrestler — sure to make his presence felt as the lone returnee.
Offensively, Sheridan will have a new quarterback, losing two-year man Kevin Bakkehaug to graduation.
Senior wide receiver Nick Gill says that the leadership culture instituted by Julian makes things easy in terms of finding that new first-team offense.
“We learned from guys like Collin, who brought a good intensity to the team, to practice and to games that we all saw, that we really need to carry that over and make it present throughout the team so we can keep a high intensity throughout practice. It keeps us going,” Gill said.
While Sheridan fits into a newish running back core, they return 2012 playmaker in senior and 2012 All-Conference selection Daniel Sessions.
And there’s plenty of size up front. A depth chart senior-heavy with lineman, ready to take another shot at returning to 4A rushing leaders — the Broncs were a narrow second last year to Natrona after topping the category in 2011. New faces and new names on the field for Sheridan, sure, but the offensive work put in all summer puts them all ahead of schedule.
“There are some things that we’ll keep that are our trademark,” Gill said of the Broncs in-game look for 2013. Sheridan opens at Laramie in two weeks. They’re home Sept. 6 against Kelly Walsh. “And there are also some new things that we’re bringing to the field,” Gill previewed.
As for the defense?
“Oh yeah, we’ll be just fine,” Hall said with a smile. “You may not know all of us, but we’re all really good, especially all of us together.”