CURWENSVILLE – Two-a-day workouts are in the books and preseason scrimmages are under their belts as the Curwensville Area High School football squad will look to tweak its game-plan to open the 2013 season on Friday at home against Coudersport. The Golden Tide has brushed off the loss of graduation that included 13 seniors (11 starters) and will embrace their roles as this season’s squad.
“We did lose a lot to graduation, and it hurts every year,” said Evanko. “But it’s not like these guys haven’t been in big games. They’ve seen a lot of action, and it’s time to lead and step up – they’re the main show; it’s their time.”
It would be hard to dispute that the strongest aspect of the Tide’s offense will come from its running game. Seniors Zach Tibbens and Alex Olson return as the backfield’s heavyweights. Tibbens led last year’s team with 1,460 yards on 198 carries that punched in 20 touchdowns. Olson spent time as fullback and tailback to gain 444 yards on 50 totes and scored five times. Also slated as rushers to look for include seniors Trey McKenzie and Dakota Royer, as well as, junior Jake Lancaster and sophomores Hunter Johnson and Ben Junod.
“It will be a running game by committee as we get into the season,” Evanko admitted. “We believe they are a talented bunch of kids; they just have to improve.”
The rushing committee will look to pick up the yards gained by outgoing seniors Josh Greslick (903 yards, nine TD’s) and Brad Coudriet (286 yards, seven TD’s). However, the largest offensive shoes to fill may have belonged to Hunter McCracken. McCracken was the 2012 quarterback and piled up 1,027 yards through the air connecting 72 times in 119 attempts that included 10 scores.
Taking the snaps this season will be junior Travis Lansberry. In his role as back-up last year, Lansberry’s job was to run out the clock. He attempted just one pass a year ago, and his first completion in this campaign will be his first as a varsity player.
“It will be a different role for Travis this season,” said Evanko. Instead of waiting around to give someone a break, we’re going to hand him the ball and expect him to run the offense. It’s his turn, and we expect him to improve every game.”
As always, the guys who have to give the offense its push usually have hands on the ground before the play starts. The offensive line will feature seniors Ricky Magnuson and Philip McCracken with Bryce McClure and Nick London being used as all-purpose players. Other linemen include junior Jonathan Miller and sophomores Ian Barrett and Seth Sloppy. Outside on the line will find senior tight end Lucas Coudriet and sophomore Nevin Lamoreau. Split ends include seniors Kyle Johns and Nate Kurtz, as well as, junior Maverick Reed. Lining up in the slots will be senior Austin Jacobson, juniors Kyle Billings and Jake Stiles.
Jacobson is the top returning receiver with six a year ago for 112 yards and one score (Jordan Russell pulled in 49 passes for 637 yards and nine TD’s)
Many of the players will, of course, play both sides of the ball, and may feel more comfortable on defense to start the season. Stiles returns as the second leading tackler of 2012 with 49 total stops (Brad Coudriet led team with 53 tackles, Spencer Smeal finished with 38 stops and Brad Stubbs at 37). Miller posted two sacks last season (Smeal’s 2.5 sacks was tops, Nate Wriglesworth posted two as well). Johns picked off three passes from his defensive back position.
The kicking game will once again depend on Jacobson for punting duties with Jason Thorp filling the kick-off and extra-point duties. Thorp’s athletic schedule this fall is full as he will also be featured on the soccer field and the golf course.
Fortunately, we have been dealt a good hand with quality kids,” beamed Evanko. “We just have to be better tomorrow than we are today.”
The Golden Tide continues to compete in the Allegheny Mountain League with one non-league contest in St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy of Boalsburg on September 20. Curwensville will look to improve on last year’s 7-3 slate this Friday at Riverside Stadium against Coudersport.
In recent years, the Falcons have not been among the top of the league, but they have always proven a tough opponent for the Tide. Last season Curwensville upended Coudy 36-24 to open the season.
Perhaps the most interesting contest of the season will come from the meshing of Johnsonburg and Ridgway. The team will remain the Elkers, but will play on both fields throughout the season. Tide fans should note that the game on October 11 will be played in Johnsonburg – I wouldn’t want you to climb the steps at Ridgway to find a dark stadium.
“The first game you play is always the toughest, and Coudersport is always tough,” said Evanko. “We’re never sure how the guys on both sides will handle adversity. The first game is the toughest and, of course, we want to walk out with the win. None of it is easy.”
The challenge that faces all high school squads is what makes each game interesting and is the reason none of them can be decided on paper.
ROSTER & POSITION (offense/defense)
Lucas Coudriet TE/ILB, Austin Jacobson Slot/OLB, Kyle Johns SE/DB, Nate Kurtz SE/DB, Daulton LaBorde TE/DE, Nick London OL/DL, Ricky Magnuson OL/DL, Bryce McClure OL/DL, Philip McCracken OL/DL, Trey McKenzie RB/ILB, Alex Olson RB/OLB, Dakota Royer RB/ILB, Josh Shaffer SE/DB, Jason Thorp K, Zach Tibbins RB/ILB.
Chase Bennett OL/DL, Kyle Billings Slot/S, Austin Bloom OL/DL, Ryan Bloom RB/OLB, Alex Cramer RB/DB, Shawn Ebersole TE/ILB, Jake Flango OL/DL, Anthony Hampton OL/DL, Jake Lancaster RB/OLB, Travis Lansberry QB/DB, Jonathan Miller OL/DL, Maverick Reed SE/OLB, Shelby Rowles OL/DL, Jake B. Stiles Slot/ILB.
Ian Barrett OL/DL, Nevin Lamoreau TE/OLB, Seth Sloppy OL/DL, Jared Bakaysa SE/DB, Jeremy Gardner RB/ILB, Jeffrey Harvey RB/ILB, Hunter Johnson RB/OLB, Ben Junod RB/ILB, Jason Koptchak SE/DB, Korie Laird TE/ILB, Hunter Lancaster OL/DL, James Lee OL/DL, Curtis Linsenbigler SE/DB, Alex Litzinger OL/DL, Nick McGee Slot/OLB, Jayce Opaliski SE/DB, Logan Passmore SE/DB, Jordan Peters RB/S, Josh Peters SE/DB, Jeremy Records OL/DL, Dylan Smay Slot/S, Noah Stephens TE/ILB, Jakob Terry QB/S, Kirk Turner Slot/DB.
HEAD COACH: Andy Evanko (14th season; 105-40, .724)
ASST. COACHES: Chris Folmar, J.T. Irwin, Mickey Morgillo, Jimmy Thompson, Luke Grata.
06 @ Cameron County
13 SMETHPORT (Homecoming)
20 @ St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy (Shaner Field)
27 @ Kane
4 BROCKWAY (Parent’s Night)
11 vs. Ridgway (@ Johnsonburg)
19 @ Elk County Catholic
25 SHEFFIELD (Band Night)