[tps_title]Academy Park Knights [/tps_title]
Knights’ shaken schedule won’t ‘bother us at all’
SHARON HILL >> Knight Nation is taking its show on the road this fall.
The loss of a non-league opponent with the closing of Glen Mills has Academy Park playing a very uneven regular season schedule. Seven of the team’s 10 games are away from home.
Top seniors including first-year starting quarterback Barry Brown, defensive lineman Utensee Nankay and wide receiver/defensive back Alphonso Hayes don’t seem to mind one bit where they play. It’s unfortunate they have so few home games, they said, but the schedule shouldn’t hinder the Knights in any way.
“We’ve got to take it a game at a time and worry about Pennsbury,” said Brown, referencing the Knights’ season-opening opponent. “To us, that’s all that matters right now.”
“It’s not going to bother us at all,” Nankay added.
Following the Week 1 home date the Knights will play only two more games in Sharon Hill in 2019. Harry S. Truman visits Sept 6 and Interboro comes to town Oct. 4.
While AP has captured three District 1 championships since 2013, the league and district have caught up. Penn Wood has won back-to-back Del Val League crowns, meaning the Knights are now the underdogs in a league they dominated not long ago.
“As long we keep our heads straight and do what we do, I feel as though no team can stop us,” said Nankay, who emerged last season as one of the team’s best players on defense. “We can’t look ahead. We have to stay focused. I think we can be really good if we just stick together.”
Academy Park is a veteran-laden club of more than 20 seniors, most of whom have been playing together since their youth football days for the Sharon Hill Ramblers, Darby Township Eagles and other organizations.
“With these guys, because we’re senior led, they like each other more and are closer together,” coach Jason Vosheski said. “They’re a close-knit group … and they enjoy each other’s company. That’s important, I think.”
Vosheski is counting on big seasons from Brown, Nankay, Hayes and other returning starters, notably linemen Xavier Newman and Isaiah Rogers.
“If those five guys play to their abilities, we should have some success,” Vosheski said. “I don’t know if we will match the success of years past. We could, but a lot of things have to go our way.”
The Knights are coming off a nine-win season that ended in the quarterfinal round of the District 1 Class 5A tournament, a lopsided defeat to West
“A lot of it depends on circumstance and you’re going to need a little luck. We have to play smart and we can’t turn the ball over,” Vosheski said. “There are a lot of intangibles and little things that have to work out for us in order for us to have a successful season. But I think we can do it.”
With Brown moving from wide receiver to quarterback, and Hayes, Devon Covert and Malik Johnson as featured weapons in Vosheski’s spread offense attack, one might expect the Knights to score plenty of points this fall.
They are a team built on speed and athleticism, which has been a championship formula at Academy Park over the last decade.
Ultimately, playing seven games away from home shouldn’t be too problematic for the Knights, who have the talent to go far and get back to winning titles again.
“We believe we can win every game,” Nankay said. “That’s the mindset everybody has.”
OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Barry Brown, Quarterback >> The 6-foot-3, 165-pound senior has worked on becoming a dual threat for the Knights. A gifted athlete who could lead the Knights back to the top in the Del Val.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Utensee Nankay, Defensive Lineman >> Despite being undersized (5-8, 180) Nankay is a big time player. Last year he registered 62 tackles, including 19 TFLs.
By Matt Smith, email@example.com