[tps_title]Great Valley Patriots [/tps_title]
New boss Martin hopes to help Patriots bounce back
EAST WHITELAND >> Last season was not kind to Great Valley football.
First, the Patriots stumbled to a disappointing 3-7 mark, and shortly after the season ended, head coach Dan Ellis resigned as the Patriots head coach. So, Great Valley turned to someone who has been in the program for 14 years, longtime assistant Jeff Martin, who had served under the previous two Great Valley head coaches and took over the program in April.
“I got the job in April and it was a real smooth transition because I knew the staff, the kids, the administration and Dan and I had a good relationship and that really helped me also,” Martin said. “I mean being in the building already was also a big plus for me.
“We only have about 35 kids out for football so we really cannot lose any of our guys to injury,” Martin said. “In a school this size depth is always an issue. All our guys have to go both ways and we really have to be in great condition to compete with the teams on our schedule.
“And we have a very experienced staff. Hank Coyne is one of our assistants and the rest of the staff are all new to the program but I feel good about the experience, talent and work ethic of the staff. They are looking forward to this season.
“I think coming into the season our defense will be the strength of our team with two-year starters Jake Ruppert and Graham Muscella back for us,” Martin said. “Both those guys are real good players and we have James Thompson in the secondary and Ian Rodriguez up front and all those guys can play.”
Martin pointed out that Great Valley is a sophomore- and junior-laden team and feels the biggest concern for his young squad will be the offensive line with only the 6-foot-4 Rodriguez returning on the line. The senior will also anchor the Patriots’ defensive front.
Ruppert and Muscella are both quality defensive players and Thompson is a very good and quick secondary man, who will also be the Patriots’ primary ball-carrier, where he showed promise turning the corner last season. If Great Valley can find some talent for the defensive and offensive fronts, the Patriots can eclipse last season’s win total.
“Even though we are young we have a bunch of guys who are hungry and are competing hard for starting positions,” Martin said. “We do not think about last year, we are only looking a this year’s team and our kids are working extremely hard”
Besides playing the Ches-Mont American schedule, Great Valley will play its neighbor Phoenixville to open the season, and the Patriots’ crossover games will be with Bishop Shanahan and Downingtown East.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
James Thompson >> Running Back
The speedy senior back will be the primary ball carrier for the Patriots and was impressive in limited action last season.
Graham Muscella >> Linebacker
The Patriot linebacker has good strength and speed and covers the field from sideline to sideline.
By Peter DiGiovanni; firstname.lastname@example.org