Infusion of talent will help The Hill

By Dan Dunkin
For The Mercury
@DanDunkin1 on Twitter

He coached over 20 years in the Ivy League. Then he took his pedal-to-the-metal offensive approach to Central Bucks South, making life more interesting in the Suburban One League.

The Hill School felt fortunate to land Dave Rackovan as head football coach last year, and the feeling was mutual from a man whose Ivy background spoke of a priority on academics merged with athletics. Rackovan’s first season with the Rams was a learning experience for them – they went 1-7 overall and 1-4 in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League – but the fall of 2015 could be much different as experience, familiarity with the system and an infusion of new talent gives this boarding school team some bounce in its step.

“There’s a big change in attitude,” says senior Rich Tabarrini, a wideout and defensive back. “We got some big bodies and we did a lot of work in the offseason.”

“Last year this was a new offense, so now we’ve had a full off-season to prepare,” adds senior running back/defensive back Trey Humes. “In the meetings we already know the plays, so another year makes a difference.”

“The first year was a little like culture shock for them and me,” Rackovan said. “But this year there’s a definite understanding level. We’re a lot better, a lot stronger and more athletic than we were last year. So hopefully we can start to get this turned around.”

Rackovan, widely respected as an offensive football guru, was an assistant coach at the Ivy’s Penn, Dartmouth and Princeton (10 years there as offensive coordinator). He doubled as athletic director at CB South and came to the Hill School so he could focus solely on coaching again. He brought a spread, no-huddle offense to the Rams, and while his roster here is barely one-third of the total he had at CB South, the potential is large.

“When it’s run right, there are so many things we can do with it,” Humes said. “I feel like this year it’s going to open up a lot more.”

“It’s a big challenge, unique in that we have some post-graduates,” Rackovan said. “They can change the complexion of your team relatively quickly. But still, you have to build it from the bottom up. We’ve got to work really hard on getting that foundation built.”

Rackovan’s reputation, knowledge and high-flying system can undoubtedly help attract difference-making PGs from the region and well beyond. One example is his new quarterback, Texas-bred Clayton Oliver.

The 6-2, 190-pounder from Grapevine in the Lone Star state can make all the throws, says Rackovan, who knows quarterbacks and how to develop them as well as anyone in Pennsylvania. At CB South, he coached Matt Johns, now a quarterback at the University of Virginia who saw significant playing time as a sophomore there. Oliver was hurt most of his senior year in high school, and Rackovan thought he was under-recruited.

“His options were to go to a junior college or come here,” Rackovan said. “He’s a football player. I really like him. He’s as good a football player as I’ve been around.”

Among other key players are returning linemen Hunter Stinson, Brett Weekley and Clark Davis; Jeremy Subjinski, a 285-pound New Jersey import; receiver A.J. Bates (Arizona); and numerous other offensive threats including Jay Carter and Hakim Coles, the latter a former Northeast (Philadelphia) HS player.

“We have a lot of returning guys that started as juniors, and along with the PGs that we brought in, the pieces are finally coming together now,” Humes said. “Every year the MAPL’s up for grabs, so it’s whoever plays the hardest, they’re going to end up taking over the league.”

“We can compete with every single team we play now,” Tabarrini said.

“I’m really positive that we’re going to make some strides this year,” Rackovan said.


Trey Humes >> The running back/defensive back, a 5-9, 190-pounder who hails from Canada, has been injured much of his career, but the senior returns healthy and is a big reason coach Dave Rackovan’s up-tempo offense could be prolific this season.

Rich Tabarrini >> A wide receiver/DB and three-year starter, Tabarrini, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior from Skippack, is glad to be in the same offensive system two years in a row for the first time. He’s one of several good options for promising new quarterback Clayton Oliver in Rackovan’s no-huddle spread attack. Rackovan says of both Humes and Tabarrini, “They work real hard and are good leaders for our program.”

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