[tps_title]Chichester Eagles [/tps_title]
Brice, Eagles looking for fresh starts
UPPER CHICHESTER >> There’s a lot that’s new about the Chichester football program for 2019.
Bob Brice, a newlywed, is about to begin his first season as the Eagles’ head coach. His players will be sporting helmets with a new design of a fierce-looking Eagle that has replaced the old large letter C that stood out on the side of the helmet for many years.
The newest thing for Brice, who is about to begin his fifth year as a history teacher at the school, is that at dismissal during football season he won’t be heading for his car to make the drive to the Westtown area, where he spent the last several seasons as an assistant to head coach Mike St. Clair at West Chester Rustin.
“Being in the building with the students I am coaching will make things so much easier,” said Brice, who played at West Chester East High under former Chester coach Joe Carroll.
Brice takes over from Ryan Smith, who left Chichester for a teaching and coaching job at Penncrest. The Eagles knocked off Sun Valley in the schools’ annual Turkey Bowl to close out the 2018 season, yet finished with a 4-6 overall record and went 0-5 against Del Val League opponents.
“We’ve been pleased with the way things have been going,” Brice said. “We’ve stressed being team-oriented. They’ve picked up the X’s and O’s, and we’ve been trying to make sure people are in the right spots.
“The focus has been on fundamentals and techniques, and I have a lot of trust in my coaching staff.”
Among the players Brice is counting upon to lead the Eagles to success is returning starting quarterback Nate Decenzi, who was 125-for-242 (51.5 percent) passing for 1,847 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior.
“He’s picked up our offense very quickly,” Brice said. “He’s very sound fundamentally.”
Decenzi and his teammates learned in February that Brice would be their new head coach.
“We started working with him right away,” the QB said. “There’s been a lot of intensity and it’s been great the way he’s had us working.”
Senior Antonio Perez, who like Decenzi will be a team captain, will play tight end offensively and be the team’s strong safety on defense.
“He’s very football-smart,” Brice said. “And he’s made sure the underclassmen have been involved and learned the new systems.”
Perez, who has been looking at PSAC schools to continue his football career in college, is anxious to get his senior season started.
“The biggest thing this year is working together and helping each other keep our spirits up,” he said.
Juniors Zaquan Bruton (“the fastest player on the team,” according to Brice), Xander Squire (“one of the strongest on the team,” Brice said) and Bryen Hamm (“explosive and has the ability to change directions”) will be counted on in the offensive and defensive backfields.
Zak Scott, a junior, will provide experience on the offensive and defensive lines, and Brandon Jessup (“the strongest kid on the team,” Brice said) will play on the line on offense and at linebacker on defense.
“We have a lot of depth at the skill positions on both sides of the ball,” Brice said, “and a quarterback with a strong arm and a lot of experience. The players have been working to be the best that they can be.
“We need our young players on the line to step up. With a new offense and defense, trying to execute new plays on both sides of the ball could cause problems. We’re trying to get the kids in the best possible positions for success.”
OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Nate Decenzi, Quarterback >> The senior quarterback threw for more than 1,800 yards as a junior and has made the adjustment to an offense that will feature Wing-T as well as spread formation principles. “We know our line needs experience,” Decenzi said. “But we’re excited about this season. I’ve worked on learning my reads and breaking defenses down.”
DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Antonio Perez, Defensive Back >> As a junior, he made three interceptions against Glen Mills in a Del Val League contest in which Chichester lost its shutout — and the game — on a late touchdown on which Perez thought he was taken out by a block in the back. “I’ve really worked with the offensive linemen,” said Perez, also a tight end. “Defensively we’re hoping for big things this year.”
By Harry Chaykun, For MediaNews Group