York County Tech's Shyheim Carter, left, hands the ball off to Calvin Savary during preseason practice. Carter will quarterback the Spartans this season after doing a bit of everything last year. Savary, a sophomore fullback, could be part of the option attack. (For the Daily Record/Sunday News -- Mike Zortman)
York County Tech's new head coach was originally supposed to be an assistant on Tim Hibbs' first staff with the Spartans. However, when Hibbs landed a job in Florida, Wilkinson was hired as the main man.
Wilkinson has been part of a rebuilding program before, leading a football resurgence at Kennard-Dale that included two district playoff berths. He likes the task in front of him this season.
"We don't have quite as far to go as when I started down at Kennard-Dale," he said. "We are more athletic in some places. Most of that is an attitude and a culture change. That is the stuff we are going to have to work on."
One thing Wilkinson and staff are looking for is improvements on the defensive side of the ball. The 15 takeaways last year wasn't bad, but the 341 points allowed needs to be lowered.
"We have to find a way to be sound defensively," he said. "Having said that, I think we are going to be OK. We are athletic at the second and third level. Speed allows you to make mistakes and make up for them. It all comes back to being disciplined."
Filling the void: The Spartans will look to find replacements for Marcus Holley, who totaled nearly 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing, but perhaps most impressively averaged 7.6 yards per carry last season.
Wilkinson said, "You don't replace a Marcus Holley," but the coach is confident the talent is there, even if by committee.
Varsity letters: Shyheim Carter did a little bit of everything last season. He ran the ball 49 times, lined up at quarterback some and caught a 75-yard touchdown pass. The speedy senior is slated to play quarterback this season.
Also returning is inside linebacker Devin Eckert, who said the team is hoping to be as productive as the 2009 Spartans squad, which finished 6-4, the program's first winning season since 1983.
"We want to still improve. That (record) being there makes us want to work harder," Eckert said. "We have a lot more passion this year."
New face in the crowd: While Wilkinson is a new face to the program, York Tech's offense will be equally fresh, as the coach has installed the option to get multiple people the ball.
"I only know one offense," Wilkinson joked. "It gives defenses something else to worry about. I think we are going to be OK. We are going to compete, going to work hard. Our identity is going to be hard-nosed, run the football."
The coach added that sophomore fullback Calvin Savary could be a part of his option attack.
Mark your calendar: It won't take long for the Spartans to get a huge test in the YAIAA's Division III when they travel to McSherrystown to open the league slate.
The Week 2 game at perennial power Delone Catholic will help Wilkinson and Co. see how far they have come and how far they need to go.
Who is one player on your team you would not want to face? Devin Eckert, because he hits hard.
What practice drill do you hate the most? I hate cones because we run it too much in my opinion.
Which NFL player would you compare yourself with? Offensively, I would probably say Vince Young. Defense probably Darren Sharper.
What is your favorite pregame music? It would have to be hype. One of those songs where it starts real low and builds up and then BAM, it hits that climax.
Do you have a nickname? How did you get it? Smooth. Teammates just call me it.
What is your favorite move on the field? Offense is usually a juke. It depends how big you are. If you are my size, I am going to try to run you over. On defense, probably a swim move.
What is the best thing about playing football? Hitting!
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