LANGHORNE – Neshaminy may have had a small senior class last year but it sure was a significant group that departed the ranks of the Skins’ football team.
For one, quarterback Mason Jones, who set the school record for single season passing yards and passing TD’s last season, finished his final campaign on Heartbreak Ridge. Jones, who got himself a job at the University of Delaware, passed for 2,756 yards and 33 touchdowns, against only five picks in 2016.
A First Team All-Suburban One League (SOL) selection last year, Jones also holds the record for career passing yards with 5,432 and career TD passes with 52.
Running back Will Dogba also left the ranks. After rushing for almost 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016, Dogba recently popped up on the Albright College roster. And receiver Zach Tredway totaled 718 receiving yards and eight touchdowns before leaving for Monmouth. Tredway garnered First Team All-SOL honors as a junior and senior, as did Dogba.
The team is looking to 6-foot, 162-pound junior Cory Joyce to pick up where Tredway left off. In nine games last season, Joyce totaled 235 yards receiving on 12 catches – a 19.6-yard average.
While the Skins look like they have plenty of receiving help with the return of 1,000-yard, 6-1, 205-pound junior tight end Oleh Manzyk and 5-9, 175-pound senior slot receiver Mike Garlick, Neshaminy returns to the field with little experience at quarterback and running back.
“Although some very talented seniors have graduated, we feel good about the kids we have replacing them, we just need to get them the valuable experience they need,” said third-year head coach Steve Wilmot. “Leadership by our senior class will be the key to our season.”
The new man under center is Brody McAndrew. He’s a 6-3, 190-pound sophomore who played up on JV last year and served as Jones’ understudy. McAndrew has looked sharp in 7-on-7s all summer long, said Wilmot.
At running back, the Skins will utilize a committee of men that includes seniors Mike Crescenzo and Joel Stills (5-9, 177 lbs.) along with 5-9, 145-pound junior Savion Hebron. Checking in at 5-10, 181 pounds this season, Crescenzo averaged 4.4 yards per carry last year, racing for 277 yards on 61 carries, a performance that included six touchdown runs. The other two backs got little to no experience in 2016, however,
“We have to start this season with the ability to run the ball and sustain drives,” added Wilmot. “Three very physical non-league games – Roman, Pennridge and Downingtown West – will test us early.
“Defensively, we have to be physical and smart, knowing what we have to do to get off the field on third down.”
Defensively, Neshaminy will have to replace the talent lost by the departure of defensive tackle Eddy Parry (East Stroudsburg/Baseball) and cornerback Jacob Gordon. Gordon led the team in interceptions last year with seven and Parry provided 39 tackles including 38 solo, 3.5 for a loss.
Offensively, the Skins may have to wait for McAndrew to blossom, the same way they waited for Jones. In Mason’s first full year under center – a season in which the team finished 4-6, he threw for just 1,147 yards and eight touchdowns. His second season – 2015, a year in which Neshaminy went 9-4 with district playoff wins over Spring-Ford and Quakertown, Jones threw for 1,504 yards and 11 TDs.
“We’re excited,” said Wilmot. “We’re not going to put the load on Brody – at least early on – that we put on Mason. We want to break him in game by game. It’s going to be a learning experience and he’s going to make mistakes.
“As long as he’s learning each week and getting better, he’s going to have a very bright future here.”
The difference in 2015 might have been the 20 rushing touchdowns provided by Dogba and five more contributed by Jones. The Skins don’t have Dogba this year, however.
“Our three running backs comprised of Mike Crescenzo, Joel Stills and Savion Hebron are very talented but inexperienced,” said Wilmot “Each brings something unique to the position. I am counting on our line anchored by (Giovanni) Figueroa and (Nick) Napadano to provide a lot of leadership.”
Both Figueroa and Napadano are seniors. Figueroa weighs in at 5-10, 255 pounds. Napadano is 6-foot, 260. However, they’ll be playing their first year without tackle Chris Wilson (Wagner), Parry and center A.J. Sanko so the line will also need time to jell and gain experience.
Leading off with Roman, Pennridge and Downingtown, Neshaminy doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room, however.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Mike Garlick, SR, WR, 5-9, 175 pounds, 2nd-year varsity
“Mike adds a big dimension to our offense,” said Wilmot. “We run a lot of screens and run-pass options to him. He catches a lot of balls out of the backfield and he’s a very good athlete. He does really well in space so we like to get him the ball and let him run.”
DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Oleh Manzyk, JR, 6-1, 205 pounds, 2nd-year varsity
“Oleh has tremendous athletic ability and great football sense,” said Wilmot. “He’s just a smart football player. He’s a football player in every sense of the word. He finds the ball; he just has a nose for it.”
Last year, Manzyk led the team in tackles with 64 including 48 solo and 11 for a loss. He also led the Skins in sacks.
HEAD COACH: Steve Wilmot, 3rd year
LAST YEAR: 11-1, 6-0: Suburban One National League
KEY DEPARTURES: Mason Jones (QB), Zach Tredway (WR/DB), Will Dogba (RB/LB), Eddie Parry (OL/DL), Jacob Gordon (CB), Chris Wilson (OL), A.J. Sanko (OL), Hayden Rooney (FB).
OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: Sr. OT Gio Figueroa 6-0, 265; Sr. OG Nick Napadano 5-11, 255; Jr. WR Cory Joyce 6-1, 165; Sr. WR Mike Garlick 5-9, 175.
DEFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: Jr. LB Oleh Manzyk, 6-1, 210; Sr. LB Mike Garlick 5-9, 175; Sr. CB Joel Stills 5-10, 180; Sr. LB Paul DePompeo 6-1, 211; Jr. DE Luke Hitchen 6-2, 215.
TOP PHOTO: Sophomore quarterback Brody McAndrew weighs in at 6-3, 190 pounds. Head coach Steve Wilmot says he’s looked good this summer is 7-on-7 drills. (COURTESY: J.S. Garber/For 21st-Century Media)