York Catholic's Joey Stover, left, tackles Patrick Montgomery during a preseason drill. Stover and Montgomery are two of five returning seniors that first-year coach Eric Depew expects to step into leadership roles. (For the Daily Record/Sunday News -- Mike Zortman)
The Irish graduated 19 seniors, including 15 starters, a monumental task for any coach, let alone a brand-new one. Yet Depew, who retained all of retired coach J.D. Martin's staff, is still optimistic and speaks with conviction about his team's potential.
"We held a mini-camp, and we had a good turnout, so I've seen most of the kids," Depew said. "We're young, but the underclassmen are very talented, and we've also got five quality seniors. If we play the physical type of football I want to play, we'll be competitive."
The Irish lost their starting quarterback, running back and wide receiver, but perhaps the biggest area of concern is the line. This key unit has only one returning starter and needs to mesh quickly in Depew's system for York Catholic to achieve success.
"We have some size, and we do have some quality kids there," Depew said. "Even though they are young, they are familiar with the system. If we can get some leadership, we will be fine."
Despite the challenges ahead, Depew maintains that if the players buy into his program, the season can be successful by any measure.
Filling the void: Where to start? The biggest losses were quarterback Adam Sentz, running back/linebacker Nick Full and receiver Gary Laucks. That's a lot of offense hitting the road.
The rebuilding, or reloading process, begins with a search for a new quarterback. There will be a preseason battle between junior James Dougherty and sophomore Matt McKim for this key position.
Varsity letters: Colby Stubbs, a tackle and defensive end, is one of five returning seniors expected to fill leadership roles. The others are linebacker Brandon Jones, wide receiver/cornerback Joey Stover, wide receiver Patrick Montgomery and tight end/linebacker Christian Farrah. Fortunately, junior Matt Lehr and his team-leading 1,134 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in 2010 will return to the backfield.
New faces in the crowd: It was a little too soon to tell, according to Depew, before preseason practices.
"We have some very talented players with a lot of potential," he added.
Depew chose not to single anyone out, so it remains to be seen which ones rise to the top.
Mark your calendar: Two teams stick out on the schedule: Delone Catholic and York Suburban. The Irish lost to Delone by one point in overtime last year, and the senior class really wants a win against the Squires.
"We haven't beaten them in my three years," Stubbs said.
That's some powerful motivation right there.
Who is the one player on your team you wouldn't want to face? My brother, (junior) Cody Stubbs. He's smaller than me, but he's been lifting with me, and he would unleash all his fury on me just because I'm his brother.
What practice drill do you hate the most? Seven Gates of Hell. The backs all run the length of the field while the lineman do up-downs, then we swap. The goal is to do it seven times.
Which NFL player would you compare to yourself? Quite honestly, I don't follow the NFL. I just play the sport.
What pregame music gets you pumped to play? Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping up to Boston."
Do you have a nickname? Nope.
What's your favorite move on the field? Spin move.
What's the best thing about playing football? Friday nights. Just walking up to the field before game time. It's insane.
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