Trojans believe they’re up to speed after taking recent lumps
LOWER GWYNEDD >> Wissahickon is aiming to turn its football program around.
The Trojans have finished under .500 every year since posting a 6-4 mark in 2013.
Second year head coach Bruce Fleming believes it’s time to take a step forward.
“This year is really getting to take that next step as a program,” he said. “The program has been down for the past six, seven years. We have stability now as a coaching staff. The next step is — our offseason has changed, guys are more bought in to the weight room, a real family atmosphere with the players and the coaches. Now the next step is having all that transition and show up on the football field Friday nights.”
Wissahickon is looking to improve off of last year, when it finished 1-9 overall and 0-6 in Suburban One League American Conference play.
“I think a positive start for us is getting to that five-win mark,” Fleming said, “and then building from there.”
The Trojans were young during their tough 2018 campaign, which means this year’s team should have plenty of experience.
One of the players with experience is junior quarterback Nick Santo, who’s been playing varsity since he was a freshman.
“He played six games as a freshman, seven games last year as a sophomore,” Fleming said. “Coming into your junior year with 13 varsity starts under your belt is a lot of experience for a guy. He’s stepped up as a leader this offseason and especially during camp so far. We’re starting to see a different side of him. I’m looking forward to see what he can do during the season.”
Protecting Santo will be the strongest unit the Trojans have — their offensive line. They have six juniors that can play up front and help the offense get into rhythm.
The offense wants to be up-tempo. This was the plan last season, too, and they’ve improved at it since.
“Last year, playing a lot of sophomores, it was going through the growing pains of the young guys going through a new system,” Fleming said, “understanding how the tempo of football needs to be played at this level. As the season went on they started to pick it up and understand it. This offseason and throughout the summer we’ve constantly practiced it. We’ve brought up-tempo into our weight room time as well. Everything is on a timer and we’re moving and moving and moving. Guys are really used to the speed and the pace we want to have. It makes it an easier transition onto the practice field coming from the weight room already having that tempo built in.”
The defense is also filled with returning players that have experience in a system that was new in 2018.
“This year the defense is going to be guys really understanding what their role is and what their responsibilities are,” Fleming said. “Last year was a brand new defensive system they had to learn. Now going through an entire year, an entire offseason, everyone really understands their job and their role. I expect to see our guys be a lot more aggressive now that they understand what they have to do and trust in their teammates to make sure they’re doing their job as well.
“We’re pretty athletic at the defensive back position. Linebackers are pretty athletic as well. With high school football it’s always about ‘Do you have the linemen to compete?’ I think playing a lot of young guys last year, some new faces showing up this year, I think we’ll be able to compete very well this year up front.”
Wissahickon 2019 Schedule
OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Michael Fath, Center >> Fath leads an offensive line that goes six deep — all juniors — that should make the offense go. Fath, a 6-foot-3, 255-pounder, is making the move from guard to center this season. He’s been a varsity player since he was a freshman.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH
Raejon Benjamin, Linebacker >> The 6-foot, 215-pound senior is entering his third season as the starting middle linebacker. He’s gotten in better shape over the offseason and his coaches are looking forward to seeing how it translates on Friday nights.
By Ed Morlock; email@example.com