The Greencastle-Antrim football team wants to put last year and its 1-9 record behind them. Way behind them.
With eight starters on offense and seven on defense returning, plus an infusion of talent and quickness, the Blue Devils believe they have a chance to turn things around in this delayed and shortened season.
G-A will get its first chance on Friday when it travels north to take on Susquehanna Township, one of the new members of the Mid Penn Colonial Division.
“I think we’re more athletic than we’ve been in in the last 10 years,” Greencastle coach Devin McCauley said. “The athletes we have on the outside can run. We have the running backs, wide receivers and DBs who can match up better.”
In fact, G-A has enough good athletes that the majority of them won’t be playing two ways most of the time, which should keep them ready for action when they’re in there.
McCauley said, “We’re fortunate that nobody right now will be playing full two-way. Some will do it, but we’ll be able to rotate them out to get breaks. We need to be fresher in the second half of games. Last year, we were young and had too many guys going both ways and we were tired some games in the second half.”
Three players not on last year’s team could make a big difference for the Blue Devils. Senior Bruce Lepore (5-10, 170), who came up through the Greencastle program but played at Waynesboro last year, is now back on the team. Cameron Medina (sr., 5-9, 168) transferred in from Frederick, Md. H.S. and Tavon Cooper is a 5-10, 165-pound sophomore running back who has moved up the varsity.
“Losing Lapore last year hurt — he even scored a touchdown against us last year — so it’s good to have him back,” McCauley said. “When Medina (son of former G-A athlete Walter Medina) got here, he immediately became one of our best athletes, and Cooper, I think, will do some really good things.”
Greencastle returns two players who were Mid Penn Colonial all-stars last year — junior kicker Nathan Kirkwood (6-2, 165) and senior wide receiver Adam Root (6-3, 178), who had 33 catches for 807 yards (an outstanding 24.4-yard average) and scored six touchdowns.
The offense will be led by senior quarterback Zach Cole (6-5, 190), who threw for 1,386 yards and six TDs last year, although junior Taylor Conrad (5-11, 188) may make some appearances.
McCauley said, “Zach throws the ball well and Taylor is very athletic and runs well, so they complement each other.”
Fullback David Niebauer (5-9, 178) returns for his junior season after gaining 762 rushing and 204 passing yards for six touchdowns. Cooper is inserted as the halfback and Medina will play wingback.
The line includes left tackle John Redos (jr., 6-0, 190), left guard Jake Kumfert (jr., 6-5, 318), center Gage Smith (jr., 5-9, 215), right guard Blaine Ocker (sr., 5-9, 214), right tackle Jack Sullivan (sr., 5-11, 215) and tight end Colby Bowen (sr., 6-0, 205).
The defensive line is anchored by big Landon Searles (sr., 6-4, 332), while sophomore Elijah Britner (6-3, 275) and Ocker will flank him. The inside linebackers are Conrad and Sam Eberhardt (sr., 5-11, 215) at the “mike” position, while Lepore and Ethan Miller (jr., 6-1, 195) will man the outside posts.
In the secondary, senior Levi Bingaman (6-0, 163) and Medina are the cornerbacks, Lorcan Wright (jr., 5-10, 155) is the strong safety and Ethan Shank (jr., 5-10, 164) is the free safety.
McCauley said, “Defensively, our goal is to be physical and play with great team speed. I anticipate that our defensive unit will be improved.”
With Kirkwood and an influx of athletes, McCauley said that special teams have received some emphasis and hopes they can be a positive factor.
“When you look back to the end of our least season, I’ve been extremely impressed with our offseason work,” McCauley said. “We had a lot of participation over the summer and I can’t have asked for more of the kids. We know we have some pieces in place to be better, but we really don’t know exactly what we have. We can’t wait to be able to play somebody else.”
NOTES: The Blue Devils’ schedule — Friday, at Susquehanna Twp., 7; Oct. 2 at home vs. Waynesboro, 7; Oct. 9 at Mechanicsburg, 7; Oct. 16 at home vs. Northern York, 7; Oct. 23 at West Perry, 7; Oct. 30 at home vs. Shippensburg, 7; and Nov. 6 at home vs. East Pennsboro, 7 … All are MPC Colonial games.
Greencastle was to have scrimmaged Lower Dauphin last Friday, but the event was scratched because LD had some players contract COVID-19 … McCauley said, “We didn’t hear about it until about the time we were getting out of school. That certainly didn’t help (to get the team ready).”
MEDIA NOTE: The G-A vs. Susquehanna Twp. game on Friday will be live streamed on Mid Penn Broadcasting and TheSportsPage.blog.