Methacton’s football team resembles the scene around the school’s campus.
It’s under construction.
The symphony of trucks was heard in the momentary lapses of silence between whistle and instruction on the Methacton practice field. Up on the hill, the Warriors football stadium was receiving a major upgrade. New turf will be installed and is on track to be finished by early October. Further across the campus, the field hockey/soccer fields were receiving the final touchups on their new field installation.
It’s taken time to revamp the campus at Methacton. It’ll take time to revamp the Warriors after they clinched their winningest season since 2000 a season ago, a team that just missed out on a District 1-AAAA playoff appearance while finishing third in the PAC-10 in Points For (33.2) and third in Points Against (16.7).
Gone is quarterback Conner Derrickson who put together a remarkable senior season that saw him rush for a team-high 1,098 yards and area-best 18 touchdowns while passing for 1,387 yards and 14 more TDs. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Derrickson ran for more than 100 yards seven times in an eight-week stretch, capped by a 158-yard, three-TD effort against Phoenixville in Week 10.
Gone is Louis Cotteta, who finished second in the area in individual scoring with 16 touchdowns.
Gone is receiver Dan Casey, the offensive line that consisted of Luke Miller, Ryan Hoehl, Jake Keim, Shuajb Nuredini and Justin Bossard.
Gone are running backs Akeem Walcott and Dontae Thomas along with fullback Nick Nwankwo.
Five seniors and a roster hovering around 30 players with big shoes to fill.
“Our goal is to not try and duplicate what we did last year,” Methacton head coach Paul Lepre said. “Our goal is to create a new identity. It’s a bunch of different guys coming together as opposed to last year’s team. It’s a different feel. Of course every year is going to be different with a different group of guys trying to bond and trying to go out and work hard for one another.
“Our goal is to take one practice at a time and try and make that our best effort. If we work hard during these two-a-days or three-a-days now, it’s going to make us that much more prepared as we get in later in the season.”
Who’s Coming In:
Jason Eckman – Quarterback
Lepre’s take >> “I think he’s a very intelligent quarterback. He’s improved his mechanics over the last year or so. I’m expecting alot of leadership out of him, especially in an option offense that the quarterback has to be right all the time. If you’re going to be successful, you have to be right all the time and that’s what we tell him.”
Eckman on replacing Derrickson >> “He left a good reputation on our team. 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing. I’ll try and live up to that standard and do more than that. Lead this team in the right way, the same as he did.”
Kyle Fleming – Running Back/Linebacker
Lepre’s take >> “He works as hard as anybody in trying to learn his position and step up and be a role model for the younger guys.”
Scott Stueben – Offensive/Defensive Line
Lepre’s take >> “Scott certainly had a great offseason in way of attendance and working hard. Scott’s going to go in the season, and in my view, believe that he can dominate anyone that’s across from him. He’s earned that right to feel that way through his work ethic in the offseason.”
Others to watch:
“Ryan O’Toole coming into this year should be someone to watch,” Lepre said. “He was plagued with injuries last year. We expected him to maybe step up and play last year but injuries plagued him. Dylan Feaster is coming off a good season at strong safety and wide receiver. John Keenan and Tremain Wilson are also looking good, same with Stephen Rhoads on the line.
Adapting to Size
The low numbers should right itself in the next few seasons as the freshman football team boasts a roster of 40-plus kids. However, this season, it will be all about the growth and maturation of the young players who won’t get the opportunity to play on a Jay-vee squad this season.
“We’re a really young team this year with only five seniors,” Fleming said. “It just means that we have to provide more leadership to the younger kids and some of them still aren’t sure how to push themselves. We just have to get them to keep going. We’re trying to be a family this year. Stay connected, stay as one. Even though the numbers are small we’re trying to become that group that won’t come apart even in tough times.
The small roster size has also made Methacton adjust its practice regimen. The team is sticking to the bags rather than going thud to try and keep players healthy through camp.
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