Kennard-Dale's Collin Walsh finishes a drill during preseason practice. The Rams open the season under the lights against York Catholic at North Harford High School in Maryland. (For the Daily Record/Sunday News -- Noel Kline)
The Rams stumbled out of the gate to a 1-4 beginning in 2010, a stretch that included frustrating losses to district playoff qualifiers Shippensburg and Big Spring.
But in a situation that could have been ripe for it, Kennard-Dale avoided a regression to the bad old days. The Rams closed with four wins in five games to finish 5-5 in the regular season and earned a District 3 Class AAA berth of their own -- opposite eventual state champion Bishop McDevitt.
Andy Loucks' team took some important lessons from that eye-opening experience but also out of the rocky start. How well the current group of upperclassmen absorbed that football education likely will dictate how successful the Rams are this year.
"These guys have the same challenge the seniors last year had," Loucks said. "There are a lot of them that were not necessarily starters, but they do have varsity experience. We're certainly missing some good players that graduated. Now we need guys to step up. If they do what they're supposed to do, we'll be OK."
Filling the void: The Rams need to find some new defensive standouts after losing a trio of Division II all-star selections to graduation. Worth noting is that those all-stars -- tackle Max Geroux, linebacker Shane Solomon and corner Pat Trott -- were spread across the three levels of defense, meaning there are holes to fill throughout a lineup that must replace seven starters.
Varsity letters: The first option in the option offense? The fullback, of which Kennard-Dale has made liberal use during its recent run of success. The Rams have a proven commodity at the position this year in Vincent, who received carries as a sophomore and was a full-time starter a year ago. Vincent will be running behind an experienced bunch: There are three returning starters on the offensive line and two players who started at least four games in 2010.
New faces in the crowd: There were plenty of new faces in camp, as K-D has a large and promising sophomore class. But many eyes will be on the pair of quarterbacks vying to replace the graduated Josh Myers. Hare and Zach Wilkinson, both juniors, could split time this season under center. The duo brings differing skill sets to the position; Hare also could be used as a wingback or split out wide.
Mark your calendar: Kennard-Dale opens its season against York Catholic under the lights at North Harford High School in Maryland.
But the telling part of the Rams' schedule might be the following two weeks, when they take on nonleague foes Shippensburg and Big Spring. Those were the two that got away in 2010, single-digit losses in which the Rams had multiple chances at taking second-half leads. Victories in those games would give Kennard-Dale momentum to take into a rough three-week stretch in which it takes on Red Lion, Spring Grove and a revived Dover squad.
"We were right there with a chance to win those games," Loucks said. "We really wanted to ramp up the offseason preparation this year. Last year we didn't think we really came together until Week 6. This year we want that right away."
Who is one player on your team that you wouldn't want to face? Chris Poole. He has a lot of heart.
What practice drill do you hate the most? Nothing. Practice is awesome. Maybe up-downs.
Which NFL player would you compare to yourself? Ray Lewis.
What pregame music gets you pumped up to play? Rap and country. We're kind of out there. A lot of 'Lil Wayne.
Do you have a nickname? How did you get it? Fustus. I don't know how I got it. The seniors just started it when I was a sophomore.
What's the best thing about playing football? The intensity. You get to hit people, and it's all allowed. And winning. There's nothing better.
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