It will be a decidedly different-looking Greencastle-Antrim football team that takes the Trojan Stadium field in a season opener Friday night at 7 against Chambersburg.
Blue Devil coach Devin McCauley, now entering his second year, is putting his own stamp on the program after 30 years of football under Chuck Tininnis.
“We’re crazy,” said McCauley, laughing. “We’re running out of the pistol and we have zone concepts (for blocking). We’ll be in shotgun and use no huddle, trying to go up-tempo. And on defense, we’re moving to a 3-4.
“But as different as it may appear, it’s not that different, really. The kids like it, and we’re trying to tweak the system to use them the best way we can.”
Trojan coach Mark Luther said, “We saw them scrimmage and they are using a much different scheme on offense and defense. I think Devin and his staff are still trying to find the team’s identity.”
The Blue Devils will be a big underdog Friday on paper.
While Chambersburg returns a ton of experienced and talented players, Greencastle will be on the young and inexperienced side.
“We’re young. We’re starting more sophomores than I can remember,” McCauley said. “I’m sure eight or nine sophomores will play Friday. But that class is really talented, kind of like Chambersburg was two years ago.”
For Greencastle, senior Bob McCune (6-0, 210) will anchor the offensive line at center, where he has started 20 straight games, and will also be a top linebacker. Senior Sam Reid (6-3, 275) is a key player up front on both lines.
Seniors Tyler Thuahnai (6-0, 195) and Tre Wood (5-9, 175) are the top linebackers for G-A. Junior Adam Root (6-2, 165) will play safety.
On offense, junior Zach Cole (6-0, 150) takes over at quarterback, and promising sophomore David Niebauer (5-9, 165) is expected to handle the load as the tailback.
Cole’s top two targets should be Root, who caught a touchdown pass against Chambersburg last year, and sophomore Taylor Conrad (5-11, 170).
One reason McCauley and his staff decided to go with a 3-4 defense is a scarcity of big bodies.
“Personnel-wise, our senior and junior classes were pretty small, both in numbers and in size,” McCauley said. “Having back-to-back years like that really hurt, so we had to adapt our system to our players.
“But the sophomore class is around 20, and that’s pretty good. And they are talented. They’ll have to play well Friday.”
Greencastle will be facing a team with plenty of options on offense. Running back Keyshawn Jones ran for 1,567 yards last year and quarterback Brady Stumbaugh threw for 1,356. The Trojans also return two top tight ends in Garner Funk and Terell Williams, and receivers Kevin Lee and Tucker Perry.
McCauley said, “They have a lot of experience, weapons and success across the board, with multiple players to worry about. Our defense will have to know our alignments and assignments and not make mental mistakes.”
Both coaches acknowledged that starting the season with a big rivalry game is a good thing.
Luther said, “I love the atmosphere for this game — the stands will be full and we’re playing our neighbors for bragging rights.
“And the one thing we know about the Greencastle kids is they’ll play hard. They’ll fight from the first whistle to the last whistle. Just because of what happened last year (a 48-13 Trojan win), you can’t assume it will be like that this year. We need to be ready.”
“Friday will be a great stage to see what we can do,” McCauley said. “It’s a great atmosphere and we’re excited about it. We’ve got our kids juiced up and we’ll give it our best shot.”