Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lycoming Football Special Teams Play Can Be The Deciding Factor For A Win

Sophomore Jamie Fisher (Folsum, Pa./Ridley)
The Breakdown: With all five of the team’s kickers and punters having been a part of the team’s special teams unit for at least one season, there is one thing that Coach Clark will expect from the group in 2017 – consistency.

Senior Devon Flynn (Levittown, Pa./Conwell-Egan Catholic)
At kicker, senior Devon Flynn (Levittown, Pa./Conwell-Egan Catholic) gives the team the most experience, as he notched three field goals in seven opportunities in his third year as a starter while hitting 21-of-26 extra points. In three years as the team’s starter, Flynn is fifth in school history, having hit 91 percent of his extra point attempts. His 13 field goals are eighth.

Sophomore Jamie Fisher (Folsum, Pa./Ridley) gives the team its strongest leg, as he handled kickoffs in 2016, averaging 57.3 yards per kick and booming seven of his 38 kicks into the end zone. He also hit one of two field goals during his rookie year and will continue to challenge Flynn for the starting field goal kicking job. Junior Andrew Traxler (Lewistown, Pa./Mifflin County) kicked for the team in Canada, hitting three extra points and a field goal, and has also continued to improve.

At punter, junior Connor Bell (Mickleton, N.J./Kingsway Regional) regained the starting position late in his sophomore season and averaged 37.2 yards per punt, more than four yards better than his freshman year average. He downed 25 percent of his kicks inside the 20 and helped the Warriors lead the MAC in net punting yardage. Senior Joe Bernardini (Hicksville, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial) will challenge Bell for the starting role, as he has continued to improve during his tenure with the team.

Junior Andrew Traxler (Lewistown, Pa./Mifflin County)
Who Returns: Connor Bell, Jr., Mickleton, N.J./Kingsway Regional; Joe Bernardini, Sr., Hicksville, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial; Jamie Fisher, So., Folsom, Pa./Ridley; Devon Flynn, Sr., Levittown, Pa./Conwell-Egan Catholic; Andrew Traxler, Jr., Lewistown, Pa./Mifflin County.
Coach’s Take: “We’d like for Connor to be a little more consistent, but he has been on the field for us the past two years. Joe Bernardini has closed the gap some. He worked really hard this summer. At placekicker, Jamie Fisher has a really live leg. There are some things he is working on, but he is a guy that has been pretty consistent. Devon is a senior that has won us some games. It’s a situation where they both can kick for us.”

The Breakdown: In 2016, 10 Warriors had opportunities to return kicks. Coach Clark said with as athletic a team as this, there will be multiple players that again get the opportunity to stand in the backfield for kicks.

Junior John Kim (Haverford, Pa./Haverford) 
Gipson, who returned three kicks for an average of 16.3 yards, is a frontrunner in the group, but there are several others that can get an opportunity. Boyd averaged 25.0 yards per return in three chances and John Kim led the team with 17 return opportunities, averaging 20.5 yards per clip.

In punt returns, Kim has once again emerged as a frontrunner at the position after he averaged 5.2 yards on 14 returns in 2016. While he is elusive and can make defenders miss, Kim’s real value at the positions comes with his steady hands and his ability to catch the ball.

Who Returns: D.J. Boyd, Jr., Seat Pleasant, Md./Fairmount Heights; Aaron Davis, Sr., Sayreville, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial; Dante Gipson, So., Bordentown, N.J./Bordentown Regional; John Kim, Jr., Haverford, Pa./Haverford; Brock Zollicoffer, Jr., Owings Mills, Md./Owings Mills.

Newcomers: Jacob Fimbres, So., La Habra, Calif./Sonora; Rickie Williams, Fr., Ellicott City, Md./Mt. Hebron.

Coach’s Take: “The thing that separates John as a punt returner is his ability to catch the football. He is really sure-handed and very confident. From a kickoff standpoint, it could be any number of guys. It could be D.J., Dante, Jacob, Rickie Williams, Brock Zollicoffer or John. We have a nice group of returners. We think Dante is really explosive. As long as he continues to field the ball, he could ultimately win that spot.”