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Blue Devils return a little experience

August 30, 2002|by ANDREW MASON

(Editor's note: The Greencastle-Antrim preview which appeared in the Football Preview Guide published Thursday did not run in its entirety. The following is the complete story. The Herald-Mail apologizes for the error.)

andrewm@herald-mail.com

Greencastle-Antrim is truly green. There's no getting around it. The Blue Devils return only four players who started on last year's 4-6 squad, and the offense is brand spanking new.

"There's nothing we can do about it. It's a fact, we lack game experience," coach Chuck Tinninis said. "Coming into the season, I can't remember the last time it was such an unknown as to how we were going to perform."

Junior Brett Hoffman and senior Daniel Reese, who each started at linebacker and shared duties at tight end in 2001, are the only Devils with starting experience on offense. However, both are set to take on new roles this fall, with Hoffman at quarterback and Reese at fullback.

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They're also the guys Tinninis is counting on to lead the young troops.

"Hoffman's the leader. He's a take-control guy," Tinninis said. "He does it on offense and Reese does it on defense. When Reese is out there, he's running the show."

While Hoffman doesn't have any varsity QB stats on his resume, he racked up plenty of junior varsity ones last season leading the Blue Devils JV to a 5-2 record. The effort was enough to gain Tinninis' confidence.

"Hoffman's ready. I look for him to be real solid," Tinninis said. "He's a tough kid. Last season he was playing two ways Friday and then playing quarterback for the JVs Monday. He had to be sore and he never complained."

With all the new shoes to fill, several Devils will need to follow that lead. Hoffman certainly won't be the only Monday player from last year getting primetime Friday action this season - or probably feeling sore.

"The problem with us last year was that we were so banged up," Tinninis said. "We had four or five two-way starters who were injured for a lot of the time.

"If we can stay healthy this year, we'll have a young, competitive team. Our JV team's moving up and stepping in. It's kind of like a natural progression."

And naturally, players can only progress so far in practice. The rest will have to wait for the coming months.

"The only thing we can control is working hard and being better each practice," Tinninis said. "I have no complaints so far. I like our work ethic, everyone's together and focused and we're getting better.

"We'll go into each game looking to win. We really don't know other than that."

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