WEST GOSHEN >> The West Chester East football squad enjoyed the sweet taste of success last fall, winning a program-record nine games, posting a 7-0 mark in the Ches-Mont League American Division and earning its first division title since 2006.
The Vikings’ fourth-year head coach, Scott Stephen, is hopeful that this pattern of success will continue for West Chester East in 2020.
“The most important thing for us is to keep building the program, and the younger guys on last year’s team were able to see what it takes to win – the focus, and the discipline,” said Stephen.
The Vikings lost five players to graduation last spring who received 2019 first team All-Ches-Mont American Division honors – 2,000-yard rusher Kyle Cichanowsky, wide receiver/defensive back John Wileczek, offensive lineman Joe Carozza, linebacker Tim Clifford and defensive back Kunal Maheshwari. However, West Chester East returns some major contributors to last year’s success.
One of the key returnees is senior quarterback Ryan Duell (6-3, 210), a starter last year.
“He’s the center point for us this year,” said Stephen. “Having Ryan back has been really important for our team during this time. His maturity, leadership and preparation, both mentally and physically has been outstanding and it has really shown in practices.”
Duell will be throwing to senior tight end Scott Cummings (6-5, 245), who received All-Ches-Mont honorable mention at the TE spot. Jack Scott, a two-year starter, returns at wide receiver, along with newcomers Mason Griffin, Nick Bowles and Riley Boutin.
The running back chores will be handled by senior Joey Wileczek, sophomore Mitch Ragni (6-0, 205), senior Tamir Marshall and senior Seth Cohen.
Up front, the Vikings are led by junior tackle Max Bowman (6-6, 290). Bowman received second team All-Ches-Mont honors as a sophomore, and has received a fair amount of Division I interest. Junior John Ammon (5-10, 220) is the center, and the guards are senior Demitrius Smith (5-9, 225) and junior Luke Borkowski (5-11, 200). Junior Liam Hansen (5-11, 215), junior Jacob Sbur (6-4, 225) and junior Ben Malarkey provide depth on the offensive line.
On the defensive front line, the Vikings are led by senior defensive tackle Yadyn Cooper (6-1, 235), who received second team All-Ches-Mont honors last fall. Senior Chase Zazzera (5-9, 240) will be the nose guard, and Scott Cummings starts at defensive end.
Senior Jack McAnally (6-2, 190) returns as a starter at linebacker, and the Vikings’ linebacking corps also includes senior Justus Lamb, Luke Borkowski, Mitch Ragni and David Pownall.
Seniors Riley Boutin and Jack Scott will hold down the safety spots, with several players rotating at cornerback.
The Vikings open their four-game schedule Oct. 9 at Oxford, then play West Chester Rustin, West Chester Henderson and Downingtown West.
“Our attendance at the voluntary practices since mid-July has been very good,” said Stephen. “Our seniors and Leadership Council have been tremendous, and the overall team camaraderie among all grades has exceeded expectations. We like where we are right now and are still working our way through many situations. … There’s no coaching manual for how to coach through a pandemic but we are excited for this opportunity.”