Returning starters looking to lead Pottstown

It ranked last in the PAC-10 in scoring in 2014.

Don’t expect that again from Pottstown.

With a bevy of starters returning on both sides of the ball, including Jimmi Zazzi, Brandon Tinson and Bryant Wise, the Trojans focused a good portion of their time on the offense — in particular their red-zone offense — in order to rebound from a 2-9 season in 2014, one which they averaged 9.4 points per game.

“Offensively, if you looked at us, we rushed the ball on almost every play,” Pottstown head coach Don Grinstead said. “We ran the ball well, we ran for almost 1,900 yards last year. Where we struggled at offensively was in the red zone, we couldn’t punch the ball in. We could move the ball from the 20 to the 20 consistently, almost every game we had times that we moved the ball. We had success running the ball, we did not take advantage of our goal line opportunities.

“What we focused on this year is getting a little tougher down there, and being a little more scheme diverse too. The coaches have to play a part just like the players play a part. Trying to find a scheme that will give us some more success down there was our focus in the offseason. I feel like we’re going to be better in that area than we were last year, which was our Achilles Heel for us offensively.”

Grinstead enters his third season at the helm with the majority of his starters from last year in tact. Tinson returns and will replace the departed Gary Wise at quarterback. Bryant Wise returns at running back with up-and-coming junior fullback Isaiah Mayes joining him in the backfield. Aaron Diamond returns at receiver along with Owen J. Roberts transfer Qwantel Washington (6-1, 175 lbs).

Brandon Tinson will move to quarterback this season in place of Gary Wise. However, don't expect much to change in how Pottstown runs its offense. (John Strickler - The Mercury)
Brandon Tinson will move to quarterback this season in place of Gary Wise. However, don’t expect much to change in how Pottstown runs its offense. (John Strickler – The Mercury)

“We’re pretty loaded at running back,” Grinstead said. “Bryant wise is a four-year starter and he’s retuning. Isaiah, I believe is going to be really, really good in this conference. I think this year is going to become his coming out party. Behind him we have another young kid that’s going to run the ball. Running back is going to be a strong position for us this year. That doesn’t count Brandon, who’s going to be running for us a lot this year.”


Defensively, the Trojans won’t miss a beat as it returns 10 of its 11 starters from a season ago.

“I expect our defense to finish well,” Grinstead said.  “I thought what we did well last year was run to the ball. We had decent athletes on defense that gave us a lot of versatility. We’re returning alot of that. Gary was a big guy that we lost last year but I still expect our defense to do pretty well. We return both defensive tackles, three out of our four linebackers and all of our secondary guys. We expect our defense to still lead the way last year.”

New Guy Under Center

Tinson makes the shift from running back to quarterback, but don’t expect much to change with the amount that Pottstown runs the ball.

“We’re always going to be a running team,” Grinstead said. “We’re going to be 80-20. Brandon is going to do some nice things for us with our scheme. We’re going to get him the opportunity to get some short passes off and run some stuff that fits his arm. He’s not going to be a dropback, throw it down the field kind of guy. We haven’t had that since Sage Reinhart (Moravian College) a couple years ago. Those kinds of quarterbacks don’t come along everyday but we’re going to take advantage of his skill set.”

“I only have one goal and that is to lead the team as best as I can to get us to where we need to be at,” Tinson said. “I do what I do for the other 10 people, not just myself.”

In the Trenches

Jimmi Zazzi is the leading returner along the line for Pottstown which Grinstead said is a “work in progress.”

Zazzi, a three-year starter at center, has bulked up nearly 150 pounds since his freshman season when he came in weighing 115. A pre-sleep smoothie consisting of two eggs, whole milk, chocolate syrup and chocolate ice cream helped him balloon up to the 260-lbs he’s at now. His strength has been on display as well as he’s the only 300-lb bencher for the Trojans. He put up 320-lbs on the bench press and 495-lbs in the squat rack.

“Jimmi is going to do a nice job leading us,” Grinstead said. “He’s a strong kid, he’s a weightroom kid. He did a great job last year and I think he’s going to take a real nice step for us. We’re young in a couple of positions. We’re going to have to grow up real quickly in our non-league schedule to get ready for the PAC-10. It will be about how we develop and if we stay healthy.”



Feel the Burn 

Pottstown benefitted from a Cross-Fit offseason training program mixed in with Yoga classes throughout the spring and summer. It brought about some competition in the offseason workouts.

“A bunch of us we’re being competitive in the weightroom,” Bryant Wise said. “The (Cross-Fit) workout was good,  you’re working the whole body and not just one area. It helped a lot.”


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