Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lycoming Football Getting Back To Athleticism Defense

#51 Taylor Kim (Avondale, Pa./Avon Grove). A Photo
Defensive Line
The Breakdown: From 2011-13, the Warriors led the MAC in scoring defense in all three years and total defense in two of the three. They also had more than 20 sacks in each of those three seasons. If you ask Coach Clark or defensive coordinator Steve Wiser, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, pressure at the line of scrimmage is at the heart of the Warriors’ defensive philosophy. With a large group of linemen returning and an even bigger group of freshmen, Wiser turned to an old friend after the team posted just 15 sacks in 2016, reaching out to Steve Radocaj, the defensive line coach for the Warriors (in no coincidence) from 2008-13.

The results have been encouraging early in camp, and the team is beginning to find a diverse crew of players that can make stops at and behind the line of scrimmage.

#94 Senior Mike Palmer (Chester, Pa./Monsignor Bonner)
Senior Caleb Robbins (Williamsport, Pa./Loyalsock Township)
Junior Ahmad Curtis (Effort, Pa./Pleasant Valley) returns healthy and the 6-1, 300-pounder gives the team a big presence that will require double teams up the middle. As a freshman in 2015, he posted 12 tackles in 10 games. Senior Cody Stemrich (Sweet Valley, Pa./Wyoming Seminary), after one year in the system, has made a leap into the two-deep along with sophomore Nate Lash (Clearfield, Pa./Clearfield). Freshman Kyle Pierce (Berwick, Pa./Berwick) will also see snaps immediately. Senior Mike Palmer (Chester, Pa./Monsignor Bonner) also gives the team a big body up the middle, as the 6-4 tackle posted 2.0 sacks and 25 tackles as a junior.

At defensive end, senior Adin Hines (Harrisburg, Pa./Susquehanna Township) returns for a fifth-year while completing his accounting degree. The 6-0, 240-pounder led the team with 8.0 tackles for loss to go with 33 stops in 2016, thanks to his versatility that can see him lineup in any of the four positions along the line. Junior Sam Romanofsky (Havertown, Pa./Haverford) will match up on the other side after leading the team with 3.0 sacks in 2016, while he posted 4.5 tackles for loss and 30 tackles.

Junior Taylor Kim (Avondale, Pa./Avon Grove) and sophomore Billy Farrell (Havertown, Pa./Haverford) each made significant leaps thanks to the Canada trip, with Kim posting 2.5 sacks in that game, and both will see snaps at end this year.

Who Returns: Ahmad Curtis, Jr., Effort, Pa./Pleasant Valley; Billy Farrell, So., Havertown, Pa./Haverford; Adin Hines, Sr., Harrisburg, Pa./Susquehanna Township; Taylor Kim, Jr., Avondale, Pa./Avon Grove; Nate Lash, So., Clearfield, Pa./Clearfield Area; Steve Longazel, So., Hazleton, Pa./Hazleton Area; Mike Palmer, Sr., Chester, Pa./Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast; Sam Romanofsky, Jr., Havertown, Pa./Haverford; Cody Stemrich, Sr., Sweet Valley, Pa./Wyoming Seminary.

Newcomers: Najee Corbin, Fr., Springdale, Md./Charles H. Flowers; Jerry Curran, Fr., Springfield, Pa./Malvern Prep; Luke Ganny, Fr., Basking Ridge, N.J./Ridge; Bryan Hudak, Fr., Jessup, Pa./Valley View; Hunter Murphy, Fr., Lewisburg, Pa./Lewisburg; Trent Riggs, Fr., Centreville, Md./Queen Anne's County; Kyle Pierce, Fr., Berwick, Pa./Berwick Area; Steven Truex, Fr., Wrightstown, N.J./Northern Burlington.

Coach’s Take: “We think if we can battle up front, we are going to be good defensively. Cody Stemrich has started to step up with Ahmad. When you have someone like Ahmad and athletic guys behind him, everyone’s life is a little bit easier because he eats up space and blockers. It creates more 1-on-1 opportunities and mismatches. Sam Romanofsky had a nice sophomore year and a great spring. If he continues at the pace he is going, he is going to be an all-league player. You get everything that Taylor Kim has. He listens. He plays hard, so you get the best technique that he can possibly with and his best effort. He is not the biggest kid, but his desire and fundamentals are going to find him on the field. He is a disruptive guy because he plays hard. Billy Farrell and Taylor Kim can become pass rush guys, so there is a chance on third and long, Adin Hines is big enough to pass rush inside and he can use his quickness to beat guards and centers.”

The Breakdown: If Wiser has talked of anything during his 43 years with the Warriors, it’s that he wants defensive players that are fast. In 2013, when all three starting linebackers earned All-MAC honors, the Warriors had a group that included two high school receivers and a Division I walk-on basketball player. If athletes and speed are what the Warriors look for, they have plenty of it in a youthful linebacking corps.

#30 Sophomores Sam Pawlikowski (West Creek, N.J./Seneca)
#92 Sophomore Nate Lash (Clearfield, Pa./Clearfield).
#30 Sophomore 
Trey Smith (Hughesville, Pa./Hughesville)
Senior Caleb Robbins (Williamsport, Pa./Loyalsock Township), who started all 10 games at linebacker in 2016, gives the team the most experience after he posted 37 tackles, four for loss and a sack. Junior Nick Kovalick (Woodland, Pa./Clearfield) posted 28 tackles, 4.5 for loss, in just five games as a sophomore and sophomore Zach Kovach (Duncansville, Pa./Hollidaysburg) added 34 tackles and two sacks in his rookie year. All three will again be factors, but the leaps that several other players made during the spring and fall camps will make it a crowded linebacking corps.

Sophomores Sam Pawlikowski (West Creek, N.J./Seneca), a high school running back, Trey Smith (Hughesville, Pa./Hughesville), a high school receiver and safety, and John Schmidt (Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic) will all have a chance to take over starting slots, with Pawlikowski impressing on the strong side and Smith and Schmidt both getting opportunities in the middle. On the weak side, junior Jarrell Payne (Jersey City, N.J./Liberty) returns after an injury kept him sidelined in 2016. A converted safety, he started four games as a freshman in 2016, making 19 tackles and defending four passes.

Who Returns: Logan Chetaitis, Jr., Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley; Gabe Fuhrman, Jr., Bainbridge, Pa./Elizabethtown Area; Zach Kovach, So., Duncansville, Pa./Hollidaysburg Area; Nick Kovalick, Jr., Woodland, Pa./Clearfield Area; Joel Melendez, So., West Deptford, N.J./Gateway Regional; Brendan Noga, So., Havertown, Pa./Haverford; Sam Pawlikowski, So., West Creek, N.J./Seneca; Jarrell Payne, Jr., Jersey City, N.J./Liberty; Caleb Robbins, Sr., Williamsport, Pa./Loyalsock Township; Josh Sawka, Sr., Dunmore, Pa./Dunmore; John Schmidt, So., Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic; Trey Smith, So., Hughesville, Pa./Hughesville; Malik Thomas, Sr., Delran, N.J./Delran.

Newcomers: Anthony Berrios, Fr., Factoryville, Pa./Lackawanna Trail; Teague Hoffman, Fr., York, Pa./York Suburban; Matt Kalyan, Fr., Auburn, Pa./Schuylkill Haven; Neil McGee, Fr., Sewell, N.J./Gloucester Catholic; Tsulu Scrivens, Fr., Jersey City, N.J./Hudson Catholic; Kenny Wallace, Fr., Collingdale, Pa./Ridley.

Coach’s Take: “The thing we have back at linebacker is some athleticism. Jarrell Payne was in the secondary and he can really run. Sam Pawlikowski was a high school running back. Trey Smith used to be a d-back. Now we may not have the biggest group of linebackers, but it is a really athletic group that can be disruptive during the course of a game.”

#23 Senior captain Mike Ward (Edgewater, Md./South River)
Defensive Backs
The Breakdown: If speed and experience are usually the markings of a successful secondary, the Warriors should have a bright outlook in 2016.

Senior captain Mike Ward (Edgewater, Md./South River) leads the group, as he has led the team in tackles in each of the last two years, finishing with 73 as a junior to go with two interceptions and a nation-leading five fumble recoveries.

Sophomore Korahn Williams (Reading, Pa./Reading)
In the other safety slot, sophomore Korahn Williams (Reading, Pa./Reading) returns after stepping into a starting role as a rookie, when he posted 38 tackles, 3.5 for loss, to go with two interceptions and three pass breakups. Junior Joe Pinzka (Perkasie, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) will also see significant snaps at safety after posting 33 tackles and an interception in 2016.

At cornerback, senior Johnathan Zedar (Dalton, Pa./Lackawanna Trail) is back for a third year as a starter, as he notched 27 tackles and led the team with six pass breakups. In the other cornerback slot, junior D.J. Boyd (Seat Pleasant, Md./Fairmount Heights) gives the team the potential for a big-playmaker. Even after an injury-riddled sophomore season, he had posted 13 tackles and four pass breakups in just three games. The year before that he had 25 tackles and four breakups. Senior Aaron Davis (Sayreville, N.J./War Memorial) will also help as a cornerback and a group of freshmen will also be called on to help.

Who Returns: D.J. Boyd, Jr., Seat Pleasant, Md./Fairmount Heights; Jeff Coplin, So., Philadelphia, Pa./Central; Aaron Davis, Sr., Sayreville, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial; Tyler George, So., Clifton Heights Pa./Upper Darby; Joe Pinzka, Jr., Perkasie, Pa./Lansdale Catholic; Jake Strassner, So., Montoursville, Pa./Montoursville Area; Mike Ward, Sr., Edgewater, Md./South River; Korahn Williams, So., Reading, Pa./Reading; Johnathan Zedar, Sr., Dalton, Pa./Lackawanna Trail.

Newcomers: Joey Baran, Fr., Berlin, N.J./Overbrook; Seifuddin Black, So., Philadelphia, Pa./Imhotep Charter; Gianni Bryant-Lopez, Fr., Delran, N.J./Delran; Andre Jackson Jr., Fr., Paterson, N.J./Hawthorne; Logan Johnson, So., Imler, Pa./Claysburg-Kimmel; Allen Martin, Fr., Secane, Pa./Ridley; Colin Munley, Fr., Carbondale, Pa./Mid Valley; Chris Schulgen, Fr., McClure, Pa./Midd-West.

Coach’s Take: “Michael is a good starting point because he is always around the football. Korahn and Joe are guys that have really started to figure it out. D.J. really changes the equation. We really think he is different as a corner at our level. He is 6-0 and almost 200 pounds. There aren’t a lot of those guys in our conference.”