Entering a brand new wrestling campaign, teams around the Suburban One League (SOL) are setting their sights on SOL trophies, District 1, regional and even state medals.
Neshaminy is no different but to start off, they're keeping it simple, telling all of their grapplers to stay off their backs.
"When we looked back at the stats, there was quite a few pins so we're trying to work on staying off our backs,' said first-year coach Tony Incollingo. "It's a 12-point swing if you don't get the pin. If you get the pin, you get the 12 points. If you get pinned, you lose the 12 — six you could have had and six you're giving to the other team
"It makes a big difference when you're trying to earn a team victory, you want to keep them all as close as you can
While the Redskins are coming off a solid 5-2 campaign on the mat, a lot has changed since last season, starting with the new coach.
Incollingo — a 1985 graduate of Pennsbury and former assistant coach for the Falcons — is the new man at the helm. And while Neshaminy has several wrestlers returning from last year including some who qualified for regionals last season, the wrestling ranks on Old Lincoln Highway are rife with fresh talent.
Experienced grapplers like Sam Rudolph (113 pounds), Nate Russell (152), Evan Pascucci (160), Kody Lupfer (182) and Dominic Stabilito (138) are going to have to show the new guys the ropes.
"We have a lot of freshman; we're going to have to work with them,' said Stabilito. "We have to take the time just to keep the team going strong.
"We have high expectations so I think the season should turn out pretty good.'
Like last year, the ' Skins open on the road at the Quakertown Duals on Dec. 7 before jumping to the Penn Manor Tournament the following week.
Neshaminy went 2-3 in the dual meet tourney last year with wins over Hazelton and the host team. At Penn Manor — an individual tournament, Russell and Lupfer took fifth-place medals.
In league competition last year, Neshaminy held its own in the SOL, beating everybody but co-champs Pennsbury and Council Rock South, which nipped the Redskins by a single point on a late pin by Hawks 220-pounder Ben Kenis.
While the ' Skins lost by double digits to Pennsbury, they actually held an 8-point lead on South after Lupfer pinned Emeka Enogwe in the 182-pound bout. Unfortunately, Noah Kisselback lost a decision to state qualifier PJ Steinmetz at 195 and Jake Fox found himself on his back in 20 seconds vs. Kenis.
"It was a heart-breaker — to see that happen at the last second in a big match,' said Russell.
While Graeber, Lupfer and 2013 graduate Ryan O'Connor scored pins, Neshaminy lost via the fall at 113, 120 and 220 while losing by tech-fall at 138.
"We've been working really hard to go out there and beat them — get revenge from last year,' said Russell. "We can't give up bonus points like we did last year.'
On the plus side, Neshaminy registered double-digit wins over Council Rock North, Abington, William Tennent and Truman last year while besting Bensalem by nine points in their first dual meet of the season.
"I think the league itself is tough — anybody can beat any team on any given day,' stated Incollingo. "You've got to show up every night.
"Truman is on the rise. Council Rock South, North, Pennsbury — it's a battle. It's going to be who is prepared and who shows up each night to wrestle.'
After opening SOL competition against the Owls Dec. 18, Neshaminy travels to Governor Mifflin for an individual meet Dec. 27 and 28, comes home to face Abington Jan 8 then to York on Jan. 11 for the NHSCA Festival.
A stretch in mid- to late-January will determine the ' Skins fate in the SOL. In that span, they face Tennent (Jan. 15) and Pennsbury (Jan. 17) at home while traveling to Council Rock South (Jan. 22) and CR North (Jan. 29).
"That's going to be our breaking point — we'll see who's battle —ready,' stated Incollingo.
Wrestle-offs begin this Saturday, Nov. 30. Among Neshaminy's goals this season are a better team record, and a team title in the SOL National Conference. Individually, the coach hopes to see the likes of Rudolph, Russell, Stabilito, Lupfer and Pascucci on several postseason podiums.
"We have high expectations for Sam, Nate, Dom, Kody and Evan,' said Incollingo. "Every one of those guys can be a state qualifier.'
While Lupfer (28-13) and Stabilito (24-16) both made it to districts, Russell and Rudolph made it to regionals last year — further than anyone currently on the squad.
The ' Skins also have a promising sophomore class that includes Ben Stern at 170, Noah Kisselback at 195 and Bruce Graeber at 285. Graeber and Kisselback each had at least 20 wins and made districts while Stern — who is still playing football — had a solid freshman campaign at 13-19.
Graeber had a super first year on the mat, going 23-16. However, save one forfeit and an injury default, all of his wins were pins. And while he lost three matches by decision, he found himself on his back in 13 additional defeats.
"He (Graeber) knows what it's like to wrestle in high school now and he's been working hard,' said Russell.
"It's going to happen a lot at heavyweight but he's going to have to be ready to wrestle all three periods if it comes down to that with a really good kid like a regional- or state-placer.'
Graeber worked offseason with the East-Mont wrestling club, and also competed in the Super 32 Tournament.
"We're going to condition him so that we know that he can go six minutes and either pin somebody else or stay off his back, said Incollingo.
Which goes back to the team's original goal of not giving up those bonus points, the name of the game in high school wrestling.
NOTES: Once again, Neshaminy is hosting the Redskin Duals Jan. 25. Downingtown East, Quakertown, Twin Valley, Northern Lehigh, CB West, Academy at Palumbo, Upper Merion, Edison and Phelps are among the visitors.