High school football: Change means opportunity for Wildcats under new coach

September 04, 2013|By MARK KELLER |
  • 2013 Williamsport football team
2013 Williamsport football team

WILLIAMSPORT — It’s been an offseason of change for the Williamsport football program.

New head coach and coaching staff. New offensive schemes. New look in the locker room.

Vince Ahearn knows all of that change also means new opportunities.

“We’re trying to build off what’s been done in the past and continue to build this program,” said Ahearn, who took the head coaching position at Williamsport in February after 17 seasons at Frederick.

“The kids, they’re excited. Change means new opportunities and there’s a lot of excitement and a lot of potential here.”

All the same, Ahearn is cautious about going overboard.

“You have to be careful there’s not too much change,” he said. “It’s like when you go hiking or backpacking. You only take what’s necessary and don’t weigh yourself down. In this case, it’s not too many plays and strategies.”

With that being said, there’s still plenty of change to go around for the Wildcats, who are coming off a 1-9 season in 2012.

They’ll switch to a no-huddle spread offense, a staple of Ahearn’s time at Frederick.

It’s probably the new feature that Williamsport players are most excited about.

“That’s definitely an advantage coming in new. They could see we were running a totally different offense,” Ahearn said. “But they’re enthusiastic about it. They want to learn. And we’ve been coaching our butts off.”

The featured players in Williamsport’s new hurry-up scheme could be juniors.

Saavon Brown will be the starting quarterback, while Mannie Morris and Colby Byers will be two of Brown’s top receiving targets.

“Morris and Byers are two of the playmakers we’ve seen develop in the system, and they’ll work in the run game, too,” Ahearn said.

What could really work for the Wildcats in the run game will be a huge offensive line, one that will boast four players near or over 300 pounds.

Most of the beef will be in the middle of the line. Mike Barr (5-foot-11, 290 pounds) will start at center. Zach Morrell (6-5, 330) and Travis Kendle (6-5, 315) will flank him at guard.

Bryan Hout (6-2, 315) will start at right tackle, while Lasher Urciolo (6-3, 210) — “the little guy” Ahearn calls him — will be at left tackle.

“A lot of the teams we’ll play will be lighter and quicker on the edges, so we thought we needed to be quicker on the edges,” Ahearn said. “Plus that allows the quarterback a little better vision in the schemes we run out of.”

On defense, the Wildcats will stick with a 3-3 stack that will also resemble a 3-5 set at times.

Ahearn said his linebackers have been outstanding in the preseason. Quinton Barr, Jordan Stonebreaker and Brett Oxendine will start at inside linebacker spots, while Carter Tacelosky and Jeremiah Younker will man the outside positions.

For the Wildcats defensively, it’s all about pursuing the  ball.

“Pursuit is huge — relentless pursuit, we tell them. Running to the ball,” Ahearn said. “If we can get those five guys to run, even with them starting at the second level ... if we’re doing it right, we’re getting more guys to the ball on the first level.”

Casey Shank (6-0, 240) started at linebacker last season, but has moved up to the defensive line, where he’ll line up at nose guard.

“He’s not complained at all about making that move,” Ahearn said. “It’s awful nice to have a guy his size, with his aggression and nose for the ball, over top of the center.

“If he creates problems, they have to double him. And if they double him, now I have a linebacker running free. He challenges them.”

Ahearn calls Sinjin Shoop — the Wildcats’ backup quarterback — his defensive quarterback.

“Technically, that’s what he is,” Ahearn said. “He’s extremely smart with a great feel for the game. He’s just like a quarterback out there.”

Date, Opponent, Time

Sept. 6, at Liberty, 7
Last season: Liberty, 34-14

Sept. 12, at North Carroll, 7
Last meeting: 2010 — North Carroll, 9-6 (OT)

Sept. 20, vs. Francis Scott Key, 7
Last meeting: 2002 — FSK, 49-0

Sept. 27, at Boonsboro, 7
Last season: Boonsboro, 59-19

Oct. 4, vs. North Hagerstown, 7
Last season: North Hagerstown, 53-27

Oct. 12, vs. Catoctin, 2
Last season: Catoctin, 40-7

Oct. 18, at Smithsburg, 7
Last season: Smithsburg, 20-14

Oct. 25, vs. Brunswick, 7
Last season: Brunswick, 40-0

Nov. 1, at South Hagerstown, 7
Last season: South Hagerstown, 48-12

Nov. 8, vs. Clear Spring, 7
Last season: Williamsport, 32-7

No., Name, Class, Pos., Ht., Wt.  
5, Sinjin Shoop, Jr., QB-DB, 5-9, 150
6, Trey French, Sr., WR-LB, 6-0, 175
8, Jeremiah Younker, Jr., WR-OLB, 6-0, 175
12, Colby Byers, Jr., WR-DB, 5-9, 165
17, Mehalko Jon, Sr., WR-DB, 6-0, 165
18, Saavon Brown, Jr., QB-DB, 6-1, 190
20, Jack Kelly, Sr., RB-DB, 5-11, 165
21, Matt Malphurs, Soph., RB-OLB, 6-1, 170
22, Jesse Grove, Sr., WR-DB, 5-7, 155
23, Bakr Banire, Jr., WR-DB, 5-10, 170
24, CJ Henson, Sr., WR-DB, 5-11, 185
27, Brandon Taylor, Jr., WR-DB, 5-9, 155
28, Hart Weaver, Sr., K-P, 5-8, 165
30, Jordan Stonebreaker, Jr., RB-LB, 6-1, 190
33, Carter Tacelosky, Jr., WR-OLB, 5-10, 180
34, Quinton Barr, Sr., RB-LB, 5-9, 180
40, Mannie Morris, Jr., WR-DB, 6-2, 190
42, Austin Sigler, Jr., WR-LB, 5-7, 175
43, Brett Oxendine, Jr., RB-LB, 5-11, 195
52, Trey Ebersole, Jr., OL-DL, 5-10, 235
53, Anthony Bizzell, Sr., OL-OLB, 5-9, 180
54, Dalton Kline, Sr., OL-DL, 5-11, 270
55, Casey Shank, Sr., OL-DL, 6-0, 240
57, Brandon Iseminger, Sr., OL-DL, 6-0, 255
60, Zach Morrell, Sr., OL-DL, 6-5, 330
63, Mike Hartung, Jr., OL-LB, 5-9, 210
66, Bryan Hout, Jr., OL-DL, 6-2, 315
67, Lasher Urciolo, Sr., OL-DL, 6-3, 210
68, Mike Barr, Sr., OL-DL, 5-11, 290
70, Bradley Muhlen, Jr., OL-DL, 5-11, 340
74, Travis Kendle, Jr., OL-DL, 6-5, 315
77, Zach Loveless, Jr., OL-DL, 5-8, 255
80, Chris Werder, Sr., K-P, 5-10, 160
81, Troy Richardson, Jr., WR-DB, 6-0, 145
82, Cody Tarner, Jr., WR-DL, 5-9, 155
85, Josh Snow, Sr., WR-DB, 5-10, 150
87, Roy Parker Jr., Jr., TE-DL, 6-2, 195
88, Zach Barr, Jr., TE-DL, 6-1, 190
89, Braxton Witmer, Jr., WR-DB, 6-3, 150

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