High school football: Root will emphasize ground game in first season at Saint James

August 29, 2013|By TIM KOELBLE |
  • 2013 Saint James football team
2013 Saint James football team

ST. JAMES — Now on the job for just over six weeks, Saint James head football coach John Root is beginning to set a new direction for Saints football.

That new era begins Saturday afternoon when Root and his team take to the new field turf at Saint James in a home game against Central Maryland Christian.

“Coming in late is tough for these kids,” Root said. “There were some players lost to graduation, so we’ve been looking back at tapes from last year.

“The tapes will show us who can run, who can throw and who can catch. The summer workouts have been busy.”

The Saints went 4-5 last year and have been a mixed bag over past years in terms of wins and losses.

Root would like to make a permanent change.

“The biggest thing right now is trying to change the culture of Saint James football,” Root said.

There are only a handful of players returning with major minutes under their belts, including flashy senior wide receiver Sherman Harris (6-foot-2, 190 pounds), running back/defensive back Justin Pank (5-9, 160) and running back/defensive back Noah Cisse (5-10, 165). All three were postseason Herald-Mail all-stars.

“We need to try and get the ball in Sherman’s hands,” Root said. “We could have him moving around (positions), in motion to get single coverage. He’s shown a lot of leadership already.

“Justin is a tough hard-nosed runner with deceptive speed,” Root said, “and (Cisse) has good speed and will be a complement to Justin.”

In the trenches, the Saints will be led by linemen Tyler George, a 6-foot, 195-pound junior and 6-4, 190-pound senior Sam Baker.

Saint James will abandon the prominent passing game in favor of the return of the wing-T offense. The Saints threw the ball on 70 percent of their plays last season. Root said that ratio could swing the other way to 70 percent running plays this year.

Root will put the wing-T in the hands of 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior quarterback Garrett Blank. There won’t be any option looks in the wing-T, but if Blank keeps the ball, he’ll be a load to bring down.

“People will have to get a good shot on him to get him down,” Root said.

Defensively, Root said the Saints will employ a 5-3 front, that the team “just doesn’t have the personnel for a 4.”

There will be a few two-way performers and they include George and Blank at linebacker, Harris in the secondary and Baker on the defensive line.

The Saints suffered through a string of injuries last season, starting with quarterback Bobby Brennan, who has since transferred to North Hagerstown. Seldom was the varsity roster completely intact.

“I’m optimistic overall,” Root said. “We have a good core of kids that are buying into the system. We just need to keep them healthy.”

Due to Bishop Walsh discontinuing its football program, the Saints play only eight games. After Central Maryland Christian the non-conference foes are Clear Spring at home and Hancock and St. John’s Catholic Prep on the road before four dates against tough Mid-Atlantic Conference opponents.

Date, Opponent, Time

Aug. 31, vs. Central Md. Christian, 2:30
First meeting

Sept. 7, vs. Clear Spring, 2:30
Last season: Saint James, 21-19

Sept. 13, at Hancock, 7
Last season: Saint James, 40-14

Sept. 20, at St. John’s-Catholic Prep, 6
Last season: Saint James, 14-0

Sept. 28, OPEN

Oct. 5, vs. Potomac School, 2:30
Last season: Potomac, 36-0

Oct. 12, vs. Flint Hill, 2:30
Last season: Flint Hill, 60-0

Oct. 26, at Sidwell Friends, 3
Last season: Sidwell Friends, 34-23

Nov. 2, at Maret, 2
Last season: Saint James, 37-17

No., Name, Class, Pos., Ht., Wt.  
1, James Mahoney, Fr., QB-LB, 5-8, 140
2, Kaelin Thrasher, Jr., QB-DB, 6-0, 150
3, Cole Menas, Fr., WR-DB, 5-8, 145
5, Ryan Abbott, Sr., WR-K, 5-10, 160
7, Sherman Harris, Sr., WR-DB, 6-2, 190
8, Isaiah Young-Burke, Jr., RB-DB, 6-1, 170
9, David Emma-Makeri, Jr., TE-DE, 6-2, 190
16, Scott Manesh, Sr., QB-LB, 6-0, 180
17, Ethan Spicer, Soph., QB-LB, 5-8, 135
18, Garrett Blank, Sr., QB-LB, 6-4, 198
20, Kevin Cooper, Sr., WR-DB, 5-10, 150
21, Ryker Dutton, Jr., TE-LB, 5-10, 155
22, Noah Cisse, Jr., RB-DB, 5-10, 165
25, Levi Schindel, Soph., WR-DB, 5-10, 135
28, Justin Pank, Sr., RB-DB, 5-9, 160
40, Lukas Pank, Soph., WR-DB, 5-4, 120
51, Tyler George, Jr., OL-LB, 6-0, 195
54, Mark Wright, Sr., OL-DL, 6-0, 175
55, Sean Tolton, Jr., OL-LB, 6-1, 180
58, Dell Hudgins, Soph., OL-DL, 5-11, 220
61, Adam Zhang, Sr., OL-DL, 6-1, 170
62, Nic Tiches, Jr., OL-DL, 5-8, 140
64, Luke Thompson, Soph., OL-LB, 6-1, 180
66, Will Zucker, Sr., OL-DL, 5-11, 170
69, Henry Meehan, Jr., OL-DL, 5-11, 190
72, Austin Corace, Jr., OL-DL, 5-10, 180
74, Sam Baker, Sr., OL-DL, 6-4, 190
77, Armando Alvarez, Fr., OL-DL, 5-9, 150
81, Alec Wingerd, Sr., WR-LB, 5-11, 160
84, Grant Tribble, Jr., RB-LB, 5-9, 160
87, Kofi Agyeman, Fr., WR-DB, 5-11, 135
88, Zach Leslie, Soph., WR-DB, 5-10, 140

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