Football Preview: Lincoln has Penn Wood working its way back

LANSDOWNE >> Nick Lincoln came on board as Penn Wood High School’s head football coach in the spring of 2014.

He inherited a team from Troy Brooks that had gone a combined 2-30 the three previous seasons.

With such a late start, and no winter lifting or conditioning program to bring his team together that he was involved with, the Patriots struggled again, going 0-11 and adding more self-doubt to a program that has accepted losing as the norm.

Lincoln was able to make a fresh start for Penn Wood this offseason and it started the day after the last game of the season.

“We haven’t had an offseason like this in a while,” Lincoln said. “We didn’t stop working. After our game against Upper Darby (a 50-12 loss), our equipment was collected and we hit the weight room right after that.”

Lincoln said he had 65-70 kids show up on average for the weight room sessions each day during the winter and spring, which is a great sign that he is connecting with his new team.

“The class that just graduated won just two games their entire time here,” said Lincoln, a former Bridgewater College quarterback. “So there are a lot of things we have to move on and improve.”

One thing Lincoln talked about was developing the talent he already has, starting with Jordan Johnson, a 6-6, 266-pound two-way lineman who plays defensive end and offensive tackle.

Lincoln says Johnson has received interest from some Colonial Athletic Association schools.

Penn Wood lineman Jordan Johnson, all 6-6, 266 of him, takes a break during a recent practice. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Penn Wood lineman Jordan Johnson, all 6-6, 266 of him, takes a break during a recent practice. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

“Jordan, with his size and athletic ability, can dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” said Lincoln, who added Johnson and junior Kwyon Adams (5-11, 250) were the only real returners with significant varsity experience.

“They are coming with some real technique,” Lincoln said. “I’m expecting them to have a big year.”

The coach said Adams was rushed into the starting lineup as a sophomore simply because he had to do it, but the experience under fire should pay off this year.

“Kwyon, you can tell in camp, is much more confident,” Lincoln said. “He has quick feet for a guy his size. He will help as a guard and in the middle of the defensive line.”

Lincoln also has Tayvon Ruley, a 5-11, 190-pound linebacker/free safety and running back who the coach is expecting big things from, especially on offense.

“Tayvon is the most explosive kid on the team,” Lincoln said. “He trained real hard in the weight room, adding 10 pounds of muscle. He is not afraid of contact both as a running back and safety.”

Junior Javon Lindsey-Terrell returns at quarterback.

In nine games last year Lindsey-Terrell was 62-for-126 for 919 yards, eight TDs and eight interceptions.

Lincoln said Lindsey-Terrell started the last five games last year. The signal caller (6-1, 154) played guard on the Patriots basketball team and has been able to transfer those skills — and confidence — to the football field.

“He’s a gamer,” Lincoln said. “The word that comes to mind when I think of Javon is he’s got moxie.”
Rahiem Bowens, 5-10, 155-pound sophomore saw playing time on varsity in 2014 catching 15 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Lincoln feels Bowens can be special. One reason to believe that is blood lines. Bowens’ brother, Thadd Smith is a promising sophomore receiver at Boston College who earned All-State honors whole playing for Cardinal O’Hara.

“I don’t know what it is … DNA? But he’s got it in his family,” Lincoln said. “By the end of the season, everyone will know his name.”

Senior Christian Michael Santos is a safety and wide receiver who, according to his coach, has been held back by injuries his sophomore and junior year.

Lincoln said Michael Santos has worked hard this offseason, went to some outside camps, and is ready for a breakout season.

“He’s a real playmaker, especially on defense,” Lincoln said. “He is a real good student who is carrying a 4.0 average. Christian went to a camp at Harvard and really wowed them.”

Lincoln is serious about getting Penn Wood back on track. He believes it starts with self-confidence. The second-year coach was able to get funding from a non-profit for a retreat that he hopes pays off on and off the field for his players.
This offseason he incorporated “Coaching Boys Into Men,” a coach’s leadership program that partners with athletic coaches to help young male athletes practice respect toward themselves and others.

Johnson said the retreat, held at an Amish Church in the woods near Coatesville and sponsored by CBIM, was an experience he and his teammates will not soon forget.

“Everybody got into it, we bonded,” Johnson said. “A lot of the guys had never been in the woods before. We went canoeing and had exercises that helped us learn to trust each other. Even more, we learned how to have each other’s backs. We got a lot out of it.”

Even with the won/loss records so down for the last few years, Lincoln says his expectations are for success.

“Our expectations are always high,” Lincoln said. “It depends on how good our youth is, it’s how good the skill sets are coming in. If they rise to the challenge, we’ll be a good team. I’m not predicting anything.

Last year I thought we’d be a good team and we didn’t do anything special. We’ll base it on defense and fundamentals and we’ll go from there.”

Then the coach added, “We’ve got some dudes, we just have to get it going.”

This story appears in the Delco Times Football Preview, available on newsstands Friday.

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