Last year, Craine racked up 2,015 yards and 26 touchdowns on a 7.71 yards per carry average and led the Wolverines to a 10-2 mark, which also ended a two-year playoff drought.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Slade, who was just a sophomore then, spent a good amount of his time on the field handing the ball off to Craine even though he threw for 1,068 yards and 10 touchdowns.
But with Craine now at Tennessee-Chattanooga, Union Grove head coach Paul Burgdorf may have to balance the offense more and let his quarterback, who has prototypical size and arm strength, go to work on opposing secondaries.
“Jonathan has a strong arm,” Burgdorf said. “He’s turning into one of our offensive go-to guys. That is what you want out of your quarterback. We’re looking forward to him having a real solid season.”
Slade will have his favorite target — senior Caleb Ham who had 24 receptions for 462 yards and five touchdowns — back at wide receiver.
“Caleb is an athlete and will do a lot of stuff for us, and play defensive back,” Burgdorf said.
As far as the running game, Luke Parker, who rushed for 193 yards and two scores on 40 carries, will try to pick up where Craine left off.
Defensively, Union Grove has six players returning with experience, including seniors Grayson Fuller (defensive end) and Stephen Cleary (defensive back).
Even though the 2012 season was special for the Wolverines and they hope to build upon it, Burgdorf said he believes the team is focused on the present.
“In the spring, we tried to make sure this group doesn’t just think because we went 10-2 last year that it’s going to happen again,” Burgdorf said.
“Honestly, I thought we were pretty fortunate to be 10-2 last year. It could’ve gone differently in some ball games. I think we hammered home the point in spring that it is a new season, a new group.”
The 10 wins were also the Wolverines’ most since Burgdorf took over in 2010.
“It’s been a process,” he said. “I think one of the more important things is that we have become an unselfish group. We’ve had a good deal of buying in.”