York, PA - After going 1-9 last year, one might say there is only one way for Susquehannock to go in 2011. However, with 20 players gone to graduation and only a handful of starters returning on both sides of the ball, the Warriors will not have an easy road.
"We don't have a lot of seniors, but the strength of the program is the big sophomore class," said offensive coordinator Jack Stoneberg, subbing for head coach Bill Kerr at YAIAA football coaches media day. "The ninth-grade team had a lot of success, and they are a hard-working group."
Similar battles will be occurring all across the field for a team seeking to put a tough year in the rearview mirror.
"In all honesty, everything is wide open," Stoneberg said. "We're hoping to see improvement on both offense and defense, develop a winning attitude and put some more W's in the column."
One of the biggest keys to fulfilling those goals is to put together a line that will mesh well.
"The key to Susquehannock football this year is can we produce a line?" Stoneberg said. "If we can, and it comes together on both sides of the ball, we'll be competitive."
Filling the void: This team was decimated by graduation, losing 20 players, and the biggest losses were quarterback Matt Olphin, a three-year starter, and lineman Connor Senft. The key decision might be who Kerr chooses at QB, and Norris might have the early edge.
Varsity letters: Senior Austin Sauble, who started as a sophomore but came off the bench last year, is expected to get the nod as the top running back. Sauble also will anchor the Warriors' secondary from his safety position.
Senior Matt Nelson will provide stability and leadership on the line, while Tyler Williams, another senior, will be the top option at wide receiver. On defense, linebacker Josh Mueller and defensive end Stephen Ward will be key
New faces in the crowd: It's rare to see a senior listed here, but linebacker Thomas Bonitz gets the honor. The athletic Bonitz is reportedly one of the Warriors' hardest hitters, and big things are expected from him this year.
Two sophomores, RB Sammy Miller and WR Steven Nalls, will be asked to step up, as well.
Mark your calendar: Two games stand out for the Warriors. The first game of the year is against Kerr's old squad, York Suburban, so that will be big. Then, of course, there is the emotional matchup with rival Kennard-Dale on the road Oct. 29.
Offensive tackle/defensive end
Who is the one player on your team you wouldn't want to face? Senior Thomas Bonitz. I've seen more players get injured because of him than anyone else. He hits hard and has perfect form.
What practice drill do you hate the most? Everything. (Laughs). Agility drills, bear crawls, crab walks. They are all so tiring.
Which NFL player would you compare to yourself? Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk. He's got a good mind for the game.
What pregame music gets you pumped to play? AC-DC. "For Those About to Rock."
Do you have a nickname? Not really. I used to be called Smiley, now I'm just called Nelson.
What's your favorite move on the field? The rip.
What's the best thing about playing football? Definitely the sense of community. You get close to people and make some real good friends.