South Western reboots on offense, but expectations stay high
Despite losing 12 key players from last season's district playoff team, South Western hasn't lowered its expectations.
Last season the Mustangs survived some tough injuries to finish 7-4. If his team stays healthy in 2016, head coach Damian Poalucci says it can be just as good, if not better.
"I like the kids we have coming back and the leadership has been good," Poalucci said. "There's high expectations. I definitely think we can meet them."
The Mustangs bring back 14 letter-winners, including seven starters. But they will need to fill some voids, especially at quarterback and wide receiver.
Poalucci is confident that players who have been waiting in the wings are ready to step into those spots. After narrowly missing out on a division title last season, the Mustangs still feel they have something to prove.
"We've got plenty of people that can do a lot of things for us," senior safety Nate VanCampen said. "Everything's coming along well."
Quarterback: There will be a new man under center now that Brock Geiman, who threw for 1,337 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, has graduated. VanCampen and junior Sean Wolfe are in tight competition for the starting spot.
Running backs: After missing nearly all of last season with a torn ACL, Division I prospect Drew Hartlaub is back for the Mustangs. Hartlaub racked up 1,303 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Senior Teian Moore returns after missing all of last season. Junior Thaddeus Davis will play fullback.
Receivers: South Western will have to replace Noah Staub, who caught 38 passes for 606 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Senior Brandon Zumbrum and junior Shareef Jakes will both get playing time.
Offensive line: Senior tackles Bubba Carbaugh and A.R. Reusing both return along with senior guard Evan Raubenstine, who is back from a torn ACL.
Defensive line: The Mustangs need new defensive ends after losing Skylar Bowman and Corbin Byers to graduation. Carbaugh and Reusing will be the tackles.
Linebacker: Raubenstine and Kaiden Gaylord both bring experience in the middle.
Secondary: VanCampen is back at free safety after a superb junior season. Poalucci plans on rotating Hartlaub, Moore, Zumbrum and Kurt Eichhorn at corner.
Senior Wes Sneeringer returns at kicker and will also handle punting duties.
Save the date
You've got to think South Western has its home game against Spring Grove on Nov. 4 circled. The Mustangs missed out on a division title last season when they lost to the Rockets, 28-21, on a 54-yard touchdown pass with less than two minutes remaining.
The Mustangs will face heavy competition in Division I, but, if Hartlaub stays healthy and the new quarterback adjusts quickly, they'll be a threat.
In the huddle
Head coach: Damian Poalucci (21-21 in four seasons)
Assistant coaches: Chris Heilman (DC), Ryan Kress, Tom Trone, Doug Wherley, Kyle Wildasin, Mike Marshall, Scott Barnhart
Class: 5A, YAIAA Division I
Enrollment: 921 total (475 male)
Sept. 2 — Gettysburg at South Western, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — South Western at Manheim Township, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — South Western at Carlisle, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — New Oxford at South Western, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — South Western at Central York, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7* — Red Lion at South Western, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — South Western at Dallastown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — William Penn at South Western, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 — South Western at Northeastern, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 — Spring Grove at South Western, 7 p.m.
W // @ Gettysburg // 38-13
L // Cedar Cliff // 14-42
W // Carlisle // 17-14
W // @ New Oxford // 21-6
W // Central York // 35-14
W // @ Red Lion // 31-14
L // Dallastown // 21-29
W // @ William Penn // 46-0
W // Northeastern // 24-7
L // @ Spring Grove // 21-28
District 3 Class AAAA
First round // L // Hempfield //21-23