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Penncrest hoping to build on last year’s solid finish

Remember to pick up the annual Daily Times High School  Football Preview in the Sept. 4 edition of the Daily Times. In it you’ll find full-page preview stories of all 22 teams in Delco, plus full schedules and other goodies.

Coach: Rick Stroup (Fifth season)

2014 In Two Sentences: The Lions, who were considered a preseason favorite in the Central League, stumbled to a 1-7 start. They managed to hit their stride in the second half of the year, winning their last two games, and spoiled rival Marple Newtown’s chances of qualifying for the District One Class AAA playoffs.

Key Departures: Jonah Jackson (OL-DL), Carlos Ruiz (OL-DL), Diego Zubieta (LB), Chris Alyankian (LB), Dan Fisher (QB).

Looking Ahead: The Lions have a combined 12 starters returning this season — six on offense and six on defense.

Anytime a team loses a Division I talent at any position, there’s going to be a drop off. With the departures of All-Delco Jackson (Rutgers), Ruiz and Andrew Benecke, the offensive and defensive lines will be a work in progress. Zubieta (Monmouth) will also leave a big void at linebacker.

The next QB will be determined in camp. Dan Fisher (IUP) was a 1,500-yard passer who could hurt defenses with his arms and legs.

One of Penncrest’s strengths is its running back core, which consists of Jon Batipps, Joe Quintiliano and Ryan Kinnard.

Players to Watch: Quintiliano (Jr. RB) came out of nowhere in the middle of last year. He became arguably the Lions’ best running back, posting nearly six yards per carry and five TDs.

Kinnard (Sr. RB-SS), who will play lacrosse at Hofstra, could be a major factor on both sides of the ball. Zane Horne (Sr. SE-CB) had some nice moments last year. Jake Buchanan (Sr. OG) and Nick Doris (Sr. DT) and Mateos Ghebre (Sr. DT-DE) provide strength and skill on the lines. Jim Hennelly (Sr. CB) will be a factor in the secondary.

Coach’s Corner: Our defense has a lot of experience coming back; if we can play well up front we could be very good,” Stroup said. “Offensively, we have three experienced running backs/fullbacks coming back. If we can develop our passing game, it will give us a lot of balance. Concerns would be the development of the offensive line.”

Season Opener: Home vs. Upper Moreland, Friday, Sept. 4, 7 p.m.

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