Salesianum enters the 2014 high school football season as defending Division I Champions after knocking on the door the past few seasons. Many teams throughout the First State will have to replace important seniors lost to graduation, in Salesianum’s case they’ll have to replace seniors that helped them win a state title.
Sallies will have some big shoes to fill, however, including Matt Sgro (QB), Troy Reeder (RB/LB), Louis Fedele (WR), Daulton Gregory (RB/LB), and Brian O’Neill (TE/DE) to name only a few.
Junior Garrett Cannon will line up behind center for Sallies, replacing Sgro. In the backfield, the notoriously tough Sallies running game will once again be deep even without Reeder and Gregory. Seniors Michael Sanzone, Liam McGivney, and juniors Chase Truitt, Griffin Salvo, Zachary Jarome, and Colby Reeder will all get a chance to prove themselves carrying the ball.
On the offensive and defensive line, Sallies returns a number of seniors with big-game experience. Leading the way on the line are seniors Blaze Puzzangara, Noah Williams, Avery Bordley, Aaron Colbourn, and Zachary Warren.
Even though Salesianum lost some of the best players in high school football from last season, they still have the depth and talent to defend their title.
“There are always new players and new faces, that’s what makes high school football so exciting,” said Salesianum Head Coach Bill DiNardo. “You start each year new. We lost some great seniors, but everyone in the state lost great seniors. We have a nice group of talented underclassmen who will step into the senior role.”
St. Mark’s football returns to the field in 2014 after a first-round exit in last year’s playoffs, falling to Dover. This season, the Spartans will have to transition to some newer faces in some positions, but do return some experience upperclassmen.
Converted wideout Matt Williams was supposed to take over for Zach Whitehead under center for the Spartans this season, but will start the season on the sidelines with an injury. In the meantime, senior Connor Eastep will take over signal calling duties for St. Mark’s.
In the backfield, the Spartans are led by returning senior Markquise Normand, alongside fellow senior Rhett Schweizer and juniors Peyton Schultz and Michael Rawding.
Seniors Peter Kituskie, Robert VanDuzer, Chris Matt, Dalton Ziemba, Edward Weldin, Derek Jackson, and Gregory Betts will likely all get opportunities to catch passes from Eastep at the wide receiver position. All will also have an impact on the defensive end of the ball playing in the secondary and at defensive end.
At tight end, the Spartans have returning senior Nicholas DiOssi, along with junior Eric Cella, and sophomore David Balint.
On the offensive and defensive lines the Spartans return a deep group of seniors and juniors. Seniors Renyle Martin Jr., William Holland, and Kenan Megahed, along with juniors Cameron Dixon, Shiyao Ju, Patrick Groves, and David Williams all hope to be opening holes for Normand while sacking the quarterback on the other end of the ball.
“We’ve tweaked some things this season in order to match some of our new personnel,” said Head Coach John Wilson. “But our philosophy won’t change drastically; we still want to put our guys in the best position to be successful on both sides of the ball.”
After a 5-5 season last season for the Tigers, they hope to get back on the winning path and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
The Tigers started 2013 on a good note, winning four of their first six games. However, they dropped three of their last four games including losses to Middletown, Concord, and Glasgow to finish 5-5.
While the season did not end how they would have hoped, the Tigers enter 2014 with some returning talent already in place to make another run at a playoff berth.
Senior Freddie Heard will return as quarterback, as will one of his biggest weapons senior Quadree Henderson at wide receiver. Change will come in the backfield as the Tigers will welcome sophomores Jordan Haynes and Andrew Gaymon.
On the defensive end of the ball, junior defensive end Taylor Edwards, and junior defensive tackle Jamar Garfield return as impact players to the Tigers’ defense. Newcomer Mahkai Lee, a sophomore defensive back, hopes to make an immediate impact on the A.I. defense as well.
On the offensive and defensive line, position battles are still ongoing, making for an exciting and high level of competition according to Head Coach Zeb Blum.
“We will compete to be better every day,” said Blum. “Our players will work together and push each other to excel. If this happens we will be successful.”