Neshaminy still team to beat SOL
LANGHORNE >> For most football teams, winning a conference championship and a district playoff game constitutes a highly successful season.
But Neshaminy High’s football program has loftier goals.
“Our goal at Neshaminy is always to be one of the top teams in District 1,” head coach Steve Wilmot said. “And to be one of the top teams, you’ve got to play the top teams.”
That strategy led to some bumps in the road last year for the Redskins, especially early in the schedule when they lost three of their first five games on the way to an 8-4 record. Among those games were defeats against eventual District 1 finalist North Penn and semifinalist Downingtown West.
As the Redskins embark on the 2019 season, Wilmot’s fifth at the helm, they face the same challenging non-league gauntlet, followed shortly thereafter by a rematch vs. SOL National rival Truman, which took down Neshaminy head-to-head a year ago.
“Our first game is against North Penn and they’re going to be very talented,” Wilmot said. “After that, we play Pennridge, which is an up-and-coming program. Then we have Downingtown West. I think they are the favorites for the district this year.”
Offensively, the Redskins look a lot like a contender too. Senior quarterback Brody McAndrew enters his third season atop the depth chart. He has the size (6-3), strength, and savvy to be a “franchise” player, Wilmot said. He has passed for over 3,300 yards and 33 touchdowns in his career and has given a verbal commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire next year.
The backfield also features junior running back Chris James, a returning starter who racked up 1,400 rushing yards in 2018. Senior center Zack Magdelinskas anchors an experienced offensive line, which also includes juniors Kenny Monaco and Nik Soska, who are both returning starters.
The coaching staff thinks they have a more-than-able newcomer to fill a vacancy as McAndrew’s top receiving threat. Wilmot describes senior Ian Sheehan as very fast and very athletic. He and the quarterback have developed excellent chemistry. In second-team duty last year, Sheehan caught two touchdowns.
Neshaminy 2019 Schedule
The outlook is a lot less certain for the defensive unit, which has been hit hard by graduation. McAndrew should line up at free safety and call the secondary coverages, while James is projected as a defensive back in nickel situations. The front seven will be built around senior linebacker Dawson Obringer, who will call the run-front signals.
Wilmot is also high on junior outside linebacker John Hutchinson, who features good size, speed, and desire to improve.
All in all, the Redskins may have some familiar ups and downs early in the season, but they plan on rounding into form for the league schedule and staging a deep district playoff run.
“Our mindset is we have a third-year returning quarterback who knows the ins and outs of the offense. Though we’re inexperienced on defense, we want to ride his coattails so to speak,” Wilmot said. “At least early in the season, our offense will have to pick up the slack a little bit.”
By Bill Kenny, For MediaNews Group