EAST WHITELAND >> Great Valley football head coach Jeff Martin feels that the 2019 season was a learning experience for his hard-working squad.
“We have a young team that gained a lot of valuable experience last fall,” said Martin, whose Patriots posted a 2-8 mark in 2019. “Our players have a great work ethic – they’ve been willing to work hard in the weight room since last December. And we had a very good turnout on our voluntary practices that started July 13.”
The Patriots’ quarterback will be junior co-captain Andy Talone (6-0, 175), who started half a dozen games last fall before getting injured.
“Andy’s a good leader, a hard worker and a good athlete – he plays lacrosse in the spring,” said Martin. “He can both throw and run [well].”
Great Valley’s top pass-catcher is senior co-captain Ryan Banavitch, an All-Ches-Mont wide receiver last fall. A two-way performer, Banavitch also starts at defensive back.
“I’m tremendously excited that we’ll be playing this fall,” said Banavitch. “We have a lot of returning players, and we’ve created some strong bonds.”
Junior Ryan Magaragal will be the tight end, and senior co-captain Michael Corrigan will be the primary running back, with senior Ben Maslowski also getting some carries.
Up front, the Patriots return all but one offensive lineman. Senior co-captain Cotter Duffy will be the center, junior Brandon May (6-2, 290) and senior Jack Barrow are the tackles, and the trio of junior Sean McNamara, Nick Morte and Archer Crane will man the guard positions.
Defensively, the Patriots are experienced at linebacker, led by senior co-captain Jake Ruppert (6-0, 215). Other key linebackers are Corrigan and juniors Jake Snyder and Riley Craven.
Ruppert, a starter in 2018 as a sophomore, suffered a broken leg in the Patriots’ third game of the 2019 campaign and was lost for the season. The Great Valley senior feels he has something to prove this fall.
“It was tough being out last season and watching my teammates struggle,” said Ruppert. “I was ecstatic when I found out we’re playing this fall – we get to show how hard we’ve worked in the off-season, and I have a lot more to show [prospective college teams].”
The Patriots’ defensive backfield is experienced, with Banavitch at cornerback as well as senior Dan Crouse. The safety spots will be manned by a trio of senior Storm Johnson, junior Cullen McDaniel and Maslowski.
Up front defensively, Brandon May is the nose tackle, and the defensive end spots will be manned by Nick Morte, Jack Barrow and senior Jake Smith. Sean McNamara and sophomore Lawron Short (6-2, 220) also will see time on the Patriots’ defensive front.
“We’re typically an odd-front defense, but we’ll mix it up,” said Martin.
The kicking and punting chores were adeptly handled by Ryan Banavitch last fall, but Martin mentioned that a couple of underclassmen soccer players might do the Patriots’ kicking in 2020.