Denny Shepherd returns to lead the Eaton High School boys basketball team for a fifth year.
The Eagles will have to replace two key scorers with the graduation of Todd Titus and Steve Sullender.
Erik Hoke is the team’s only returning starter, while the Eagles will also rely on the play of juniors Matt Sullender and Andrew Gevedon.
“We’re going to rely on (the seniors) for leadership and for them to play well fundamentally,” Shepherd said. “I’m not really sure who my starters are now. … It’s a work in progress.”
Keenan Wilson and Austin Moormeier are also seniors looking to contribute, while juniors Garrett Eiler, Seth Reynolds, Alex Johnston and sophomore Trey Smith are also looking to earn varsity time.
Additionally, the Eagles have five freshmen looking to see varsity time and Shepherd said they could earn some minutes.
“I’m excited about how hard they’ve been working and they know that for us to win we’re going to have to play very fundamental, especially on the defensive end, and we’re going to have to be physical with teams,” Shepherd said.
The Eagles finished 8-15 last season and were 4-8 in SWL Southwestern Division play.
Eaton opens tonight and will face Stivers at the Twin Valley South tip-off tournament.
The Eagles also travel Dec. 3 to Preble Shawnee, before opening their home and SWBL Southwestern Division schedule Dec. 6 against Oakwood.
The Eagles return home Dec. 10 to face Monroe, then travel Dec. 13 to Bellbrook for a third straight conference game.
They also host their own holiday tournament for the second straight year Dec. 27-28.
Two more conference games follow, Jan. 3 opposite Valley View and Jan. 10 at Brookville.
Other SWBL Southwestern Division games are Jan. 17 at home against Bellbrook, Jan. 24 at Valley View, Feb. 4 opposite Brookville at home, and on the road Feb. 7 at Oakwood and Feb. 14 at Monroe.
Nearby foe National Trail also pays a visit for the final home game Feb. 11.
Shepherd predicts that Franklin is an early favorite, but says the rest of the standings should be wide open.
For his team to have success, Shepherd said, the Eagles must play with consistency and keep the pressure in fourth quarters.
“We showed the ability to play well against some teams and, scrimmage-wise, we played with some good teams,” Shepherd said. “I think if we can show some maturity and get the kids playing the game fundamentally, we should be all right.”