CURWENSVILLE – With another outstanding season in the books, the Curwensville Golden Tide high school football team is ready to move forward in the hopes of reaching the District 9-A playoffs once again.
Head Coach Andy Evanko’s 2013 squad went 9-2, losing in the D-9 A semifinals to Redbank Valley, 28-22.
12 of the 14 seasons at the helm for Evanko have been winning years, reaching the District 9 playoffs 12 times, and currently 10 straight seasons. The Golden Tide are 50-16 overall the past six years.
Last year the Tide won its first four games before losing its only regular season contest to AA powerhouse Kane, 42-8, then wong the next five before moving on to the playoffs, defeating Sheffield, 56-28, in first round action.
Curwensville said good-bye to 15 seniors from the 2013 team which saw running back Zach Tibbens amass 2,345 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns. That, as they say, will be hard to replace.
Fast forward to the present as Curwensville opened fall camp with a huge turnout as 54 players showed up to wear the black and gold. The squad consists of 18 returning letter winners.
With that many players comes a lot of youth, which Coach Evanko recently spoke about, “We are going to be a very young football team this year and our success will depend upon how quickly we can come together.”
Curwensville has thrived over the years with a punishing, relentless ground attack and to lead the 2014 offense Evanko may rotate between two quarterbacks in senior Travis Lansberry and junior Jake Terry.
The running game will see several players in the mix including returning junior Hunter Johnson who averaged five yards per carry last season. Along with Johnson the Tide will use senior Jake Lancaster, and juniors Ben Junod and Shae Bloom. Sophomore Kaleb Witherite and freshman Nick Stewart will also see some time in the backfield.
The running game only goes as far as the quality of play of the offensive line and the Tide have a group that could prove to be efficient and strong. Four seniors will provide leadership along the front in Jonathan Miller, Chase Bennett, Kevin Shaffer and A.J. Bloom. Juniors Ian Barrett and Seth Sloppy add to the blend of very capable linemen.
Junior Noah Stephens and freshman Stephen McClure will see action at tight end while seniors Jake Stiles and Kyle Billings take turns lining up in the slot position.
The Golden Tide will utilize five wideouts, which includes three seniors, Maverick Reed, Trey Rauckhorst and Alex Hill. Two juniors, Quamone Newkirk and Curtis Linsenbigler, also are in the Tide’s air attack plans.
Defensively, on the front line, it will be Bennett and Miller at the ends and A.J. Bloom along with Barrett at the tackles. Juniors Nevin Lamoreau and Alex Litzinger will also see action on the interior defensive line.
Johnson and Reed will be the outside linebackers in the 4-4 Golden Tide defense while Stiles and Junod are slated to play at the inside linebacker positions. Jake Lancaster also will get his turn behind the defensive front.
Lansberry will be the left cornerback, while three other Tide fight for time at right corner in Kirk Turner, a junior, Hill and Rauckhorst.
Billings will see battle time on defense as the safety.
The kicking duties will be handled this season by Heather Thorp and Zach Marshall. The senior Thorp will kick off and take care of extra point and field goal attempts. Marshall, a sophomore, is scheduled to take care of the punting game.
Evanko likes the work ethic of this year’s team, saying, “They have worked very hard up to this point and I have seen some good things, but remember this is a team that is still a work in progress and of course we see other things that need a lot of work.”
The Golden Tide open up at Port Allegany on Friday night at 7 pm. Curwensville is 10-1 all-time against the Gators and had won the first 10 times until Port Allegany beat Curwensville in 2011, 35-13.
Listen to all Golden Tide football games on WOKW-FM, 102.9. The Curwensville at Port Allegany battle this Friday starts with the pre-game show at 6:45 pm.
ROSTER & POSITION (offense/defense)
SENIORS: *Chase Bennett OL/DL, *Kyle Billings S/S, *Austin (A.J.)Bloom OL/DL, Ryan Bloom OL/ILB, Dillon Davis K, *Shawn Ebersole MGR, Alex Hill SE/DB, Heather Thorp K, *Jake Lancaster RB/OLB, *Travis Lansberry QB/DB, *Jonathan Miller OL/DL, Jordan Passmore RB/OLB, Trey Rauckhorst SE/DB, *Maverick Reed SE/OLB, *Jake B. Stiles S/ILB
JUNIORS: *Jared Bakaysa S/OLB, *Ian Barrett OL/DL, Josh Blackburn OL/DL, Shea Bloom RB/S, Jeremy Gardner RB/ILB, Jeffrey Harvey RB/ILB, *Hunter Johnson RB/OLB, *Ben Junod RB/ILB, Korie Laird TE/ILB, *Nevin Lamoreau TE/OLB, Hunter Lancaster TE/DL, James Lee OL/DL, Curtis Linsenbigler SE/DB, *Alex Litzinger OL/DL, Quamone Newkirk SE/DB, Jayce Opaliski SE/DB, Logan Passmore SE/DB, *Seth Sloppy C/DL, *Noah Stephens TE/ILB, *Jake Terry QB/S, Kirk Turner S/DB
SOPHOMORES: Austin Bailor OL/DL, Collyn Bennett SE/DB, Tristen Bressler OL/DL, Austin Butlin TE/ILB, Ethan Collins SE/DB, Jordan Hanes S/OLB, Jordan Hatten OL/DL, Gus Ingram SE/DB, Eli Jacobs QB/DB, Tanner Lezzer OL/DL, Zach Marshall SE/DB, Zach McClure S/ILB, Alec Opaliski RB/ILB, Kevin Shaffer OL/DL, Dylan Warrick OL/DL, Kaleb Witherite RB/OLB
FRESHMEN: Stephen McClure TE/DL, Nick Stewart RB/OLB
* DENOTES RETURNING LETTER WINNERS
HEAD COACH: Andy Evanko (15th season: 114-42 .731)
ASST. COACHES: Chris Folmar, J. T. Irwin, Mickey Morgillo, Jimmy Thompson, Luke Grata
29 @ Port Allegany
12 @ Coudersport
19 CAMERON COUNTY
26 ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC
3 ST. JOSEPH’S ACADEMY
17 @ Brockway *
NOTE: All games are on Friday night at 7 pm except for the Brockway * contest, which will begin at 7:30