WARMINSTER — Leo Plenski is not looking to ease into his first season as head coach at William Tennent.
“We feel as if we can come in and win now,” he said. “This isn’t an opportunity where we’re going to sit here and put a four-year plan together and expect to win over a gradual period of time. We’re expecting to win this year and the kids are expecting to win this year.”
Plenski turned his alma mater Bristol into a winner, going 28-8 with a pair of District 1/12 Class A subregional titles in his three years leading the Warriors. With a fast-paced, spread offense in tow, he’s now tasked to doing the same with the Panthers, whose 5-6 record last year was its best since Tennent’s last postseason appearance in 2006.
“There’s no reason with the (Suburban One League) alignment that is still present this year that we can’t win football games,” said Plenski, the program’s third coach in four years. “So, we feel like we have a very good opportunity to bring Tennent back into the playoffs and do big things and each kid is striving to be the best.”
The Panthers are low on experience, especially at the offensive line which returns just one starter in senior Bryce Emsley. But William Tennent does return a good group of playmakers, including senior wide receiver John Ryan, a SOL Continental first-team pick in 2014. He led the Panthers with 32 catches for 615 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Just put me in spots to make plays. And I’m just going to try and come through for them,” Ryan said.
Dan Costello — an all-conference second team pick last year — is the Panthers’ top returning rusher and leads a backfield that will get contributions from Christian Mendez, Sean Bragen and Derek Finley.
Tyler Lynch looks set to take over a quarterback and while he is a converted running back, Plenski says the junior has done all the right things during the offseason.
“Ever since May he’s walked up to me and said I want to be the next quarterback here and he knows the offense word-for-word, every single position,” Plenski said. “He pushes the guys really, really well. We just to keep making him become a better quarterback. But everything we’re asking him he’s doing right now and we like that.”
The strength of the defense – which will be playing a 3-4 scheme – is the secondary with Gabe Morales and Luiz Diaz expected to provide pressure upfront at defensive end.
“Our defensive secondary, I personally think it’s going to be one of best secondaries in the league,” Plenski said. “We’re athletic with Costello and Mendez back there as well as Bragen playing corner and (Mike) Pitcher at corner. We have athleticism and they know how to bring the wood if they want.”
Top Photo William Tennant High School football running backs, from left, Derek, Finley, Danny Costello, Chris Mendez, Sean Bragen. Friday, August 21, 2015. (Geoff Patton/The Reporter)