By Zach Miller and Brandon Stoneburg
With 10 weeks left to the start of the high school football season, The Evening Sun’s Countdown to Kickoff continues with a look at the Littlestown Thunderbolts. Brandon Stoneburg and Zach Miller will highlight one team from the Hanover-Adams area every Friday leading up to the start of the season.
Last year: 3-7, sixth in Division III
Coach: Mike Lippy (13th season)
Key players lost: RB/LB Lucas Reynolds (637 rush yards, 461 receiving yards, 7 total TDs, 65 tackles), QB/DB Jarrett Brittain (291 pass yards, 103 rush yards, 2 TDs), RB/LB Zach Brown (667 rush yards, 7 TDs), WR/DB Dalton Brittain (291 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs), OL/LB Dustin Duvall (100 tackles, one sack), OL/DL Zach MacLeod (76 tackles).
Key players returning: QB/DB Cody Boyd (39-80, 588 passing yards, 5 TDs/9 INTs), RB/LB Wes Storey (450 all-purpose yards, 47.8-yard kickoff return average, 2 kickoff return TDs, 40 tackles), OL/DL Ryan Dickensheets.
Key stretch: Oct. 23-Nov. 6 (at Biglerville, vs. Bermudian Springs, at Fairfield)
The real challenge in Littlestown's schedule doesn't come until the final three weeks when they take on the top two teams in Division III back-to-back, followed by a road test against those feisty Fairfield Green Knights.
The Bolts lost to the Canners (who will only be better this season) and the Eagles by a combined score of 70-14 last season, then pulled off a close 25-20 win over Fairfield.
We might not know how good the Bolts are until this stretch. They could go 4-3 or 5-2 in the first seven weeks and there still wouldn't be a signature win on that schedule.
Circle this game on the schedule: Oct. 2 at Delone Catholic
This will be the Bolts' lone road game in a five-week stretch and luckily for them, they won't have to go far. Their backyard rivals lead the overall series against Littlestown, 21-12, and took last year's meeting, 30-19. Littlestown quarterback Cody Boyd had one of his better games (9-16, 151 yards, 2 TDs) but the Bolts managed just 80 rushing yards. The game was even for the most part, other than a 49-yard touchdown catch by Justin Gobrecht as time expired in the first half.
And who doesn't love a rivalry game between two evenly-matched teams?
Storyline to follow: Can the Bolts bounce back and prove 2014 was a fluke or was it the start of a downward trend?
The Bolts are traditionally one of the better teams in the area, but they're coming off their worst season (3-7) in the last decade. The last time the Bolts even had a sub-.500 season was 2006 when they went 5-6.
If there's a coach who can keep a team from dropping its head and entering a downward spiral, it's Mike Lippy. The Littlestown fan base is hoping that last year was a fluky rebuilding season and that Lippy will right the ship this season.
He'll have to do so without dynamic do-it-all playmaker Lucas Reynolds. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound linebacker/running back did a little bit of everything last season. He rushed for 637 yards and hauled in 461 receiving yards while scoring seven total touchdowns. He flew around the field making plays on defense evidenced by his 65 tackles and even lined up in the wildcat formation when the Bolts' quarterbacks were struggling.
Replacing him will be key, but the Bolts were young last season, so plenty of underclassmen had their share of playing time. Keep an eye on Wes Storey, who's entering his junior year. Storey has a ton of speed and he was a threat any time he touched the ball. He racked up 450 all-purpose yards, averaged 47.8 yards on kickoff returns, and returned two kickoffs to the house.
The quarterback situation was also a bit shaky last season. Five different Bolts took a snap under center, but the job should be Cody Boyd's entering the preseason.
2015 ScheduleSept. 4: at Boiling Springs
Sept. 11: at Greencastle-Antrim
Sept. 18: Lancaster Catholic
Sept. 25: York Tech
Oct. 2: at Delone Catholic
Oct. 9: York Catholic
Oct. 16: Hanover
Oct. 23: at Biglerville
Oct. 30: Bermudian Springs
Nov. 6: at Fairfield
Countdown to kickoff scheduleJune 12: New Oxford
June 19: Hanover
June 26: Littlestown
July 3: Spring Grove
July 10: Biglerville
July 17: Fairfield
July 24: South Western
July 31: Delone Catholic
Aug. 7: Gettysburg
Aug. 14: Bermudian Springs
Aug. 21: Over/Unders
Aug. 28: Top returning units