ASTROS AT A GLANCE
CONFERENCE: South Suburban Red
HEAD COACH: John Rone
2018 RECORD: 8-3
POSTSEASON: For the second time in the past three seasons, and fifth time in their history, the Astros advanced to a second-round playoff game. Competing in Class 6A, they defeated Springfield 51-26 before losing 26-17 to Normal West.
SEASON HIGHLIGHT: In John Rone’s first season as head coach, Shepard continued its era of playing solid football by making the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
2019 OUTLOOK: Rekindling memories of its early 1990s success, Shepard is aiming for its fifth straight consecutive playoff appearance. From 1989-94, the Astros qualified six straight seasons.
“Our goal is a conference championship and to go deeper in playoffs than last year,” Rone said. ” The key to that will be staying injury-free, focusing and keeping a strong brotherhood during adversity.”
The Astros will count on several relatively inexperienced players to step up on offense, as all 11 starters from last year’s team graduated.
The defense, however, returns six players: linebackers Matthew Hightower, Grant Larkins and Zac Robinson; and defensive backs Jalen Smith, Elijah Vinson and Andrew Wright.
Newcomers to watch include two-way players Ira Guyton at wide receiver and defensive back, Alex Harris at running back and defensive back, and Kurt Vanderwall on the offensive and defensive line. Amere Colbert will be on the defensive line while Thomas Smith steps in at quarterback.
“We will have speed at skill positions,” Rone said. “That will be our strength.”
The Astros have five home game, including big conference matchup against Richards.