Preseason publications have not been kind to the Chambersburg football team.
The Trojans were 2-8 in 2021 and did not record a win in the brutal Mid Penn Commonwealth Division. And that’s about where most expect Chambersburg to finish again this fall.
But there is reason to believe that the Trojans have a chance to outplay their advance notice.
And that hope rests on the wide shoulders of a veteran offensive line.
“If we’re going to be a better team, it’ll start right there,” Chambersburg coach Mark Luther said. “Offensive line is the most important group in high school football. We need to get movement up front and create seams.
“If these guys do that and stay aggressive, we feel good about what our backs can do running the ball. And if that’s the case, then we can throw the ball. We have the guys to throw the ball vertically and stretch the field.”
That offensive line includes four returning starters, and a fifth who got plenty of playing time last year.
Avery Kuhns (sr., 6-1, 285) will play left tackle, Lucas Lohman (sr., 5-10, 225) will play left guard, Chase Stenger (jr., 5-9, 230) is the center, and Carter Flory (sr., 6-2, 245) plays left guard — they all started last year. Shonathan Desena (sr., 6-3, 290) will take over right tackle.
Luther said, “Four of the five are seniors, so they’re experienced, and two guys who will also play on the line, Sedrick Vessah (6-3, 230) and Nathaniel Stroman (5-10, 215) are also seniors.”
If the line can hold its own, the Trojans have some skill players ready to take advantage.
Returning starters include running back Brice Flenory (sr., 6-0, 175), who had 68 carries for 294 yards and 2 TDs last year, and wide receivers Rhaigeon Parker (jr., 5-10, 170), who had 18 catches for 393 yards and 3 scores, and Andy Jean (jr., 5-7, 145), who had 16 catches for 188 yards and a touchdown.
“We had a lot of good things happen on offense in our scrimmage (vs. Hershey),” Luther said. “We executed well and had a lot of chunk plays. We showed the ability to throw deep, and if we can do that, it will open up the area underneath and for the run game.
“We can do multiple things now – if we execute – that we couldn’t do before.”
Also involved in the passing game will be senior Shea Makosy (6-0, 225) at tight end, senior C.J. Bryant (5-11, 150) at wideout and senior Bryce Folmar (5-6, 150) at slot receiver. Jake Folmar (jr., 5-8, 145), J.J. Kelly (so., 6-4, 180) and Trever Luther (so., 5-8, 145) may also work into the mix.
Behind Flenory are Dayre Senft (jr., 5-7, 155) and Brady Deneen (jr., 5-6, 160).
And that leaves the important position of quarterback, where Chambersburg has options.
Jermere Jones (jr., 6-4, 175) saw the majority of playing time last year and posted these numbers: 51-for-95 (53.7%), 879 yards, 9 TDs and 7 interceptions.
Riley Harmon (jr., 5-10, 165) completed 15 of 57 (26.3%) for 147 yards and 7 picks. Senior Evan Zullinger is also vying for playing time.
Luther said, “All three did well in the scrimmage. It’s been a very close competition. Jermere has the arm strength to take it deep, and he and Riley are more dangerous runners.”
The Trojan defense does not have as many returning starters as the offense, but has some key pieces and plenty of guys who received playing time a year ago.
Inside linebacker Shea Makosy will be the linchpin in Chambersburg’s 3-5-3 scheme — he was one of the leading tacklers and produced three interceptions. He will be joined inside by Dominic Barbagallo (jr., 6-0, 190) and Remy Feneliace (so., 6-0, 190), while Flenory and sophomore Stanley Lozius (5-10, 180) will provide backup.
Outside linebackers will be Brax Makosy (sr., 5-11, 150, 1 interception) and either Deneen or Zullinger.
In front of them on the three-man front will be Flory, Lohman and Vessah, with Kuhns, Desena and sophomore Pierce Schoenhofen (6-1, 230) backing them up.
Bryant returns as cornerback, while Parker and Jean (1 interception) will man the other side, and Bryce Folmar returns at safety. Senft, Jake Folmar and Luther will also play at the corners and Jones may see time at free safety, depending on how the QB situation works out.
Coach Luther said, “We have some sophomore kids who will help us — this group should be in a much better position to help because we don’t have to throw them in there right away. They know the system and the plays and that gives us an opportunity to work on the little things as they work into the lineup.”
Teegan Humelsine (sr., 5-7, 170) will handle the kicking and punting duties.
NOTES: Chambersburg reworked its non-league schedule, starting with playing the finale of the six-game Chambersburg Peach Bowl on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. against Central Bucks East … That means they’ll play both CB East and CD East this year … The other non-league games are Sept. 2 at Northern York and Sept. 9 at Waynesboro … Returning defensive starters Nick Swartz and Elijah Owens, as well as RB Rashawn Williams, did not come out for the team.
SEASON OPENER VS. CENTRAL BUCKS EAST
The Patriots reached the District 1 playoffs in Class 6A a year ago and were eliminated in the first round. They were a late entry to the Chambersburg Peach Bowl when Canon-McMillan was forced to drop out.
Luther said, “They’re very similar to us – a solid team that’s not stacked with Division I recruits. They have good size up front and a returning quarterback and two decent receivers.
“But they primarily run the football. They use a lot of different formations, they will spread you out and try to catch you with those switches.”
CB East’s defense uses the same scheme as the Trojans (3-5-3). However, the Patriots are a team that uses the blitz frequently.
Luther said, “They will bring a backer or two almost every play, and they come from different places. They want to get you out of rhythm.”
The Chambersburg coach hopes his team executes as well as it did against Hershey in a scrimmage last Saturday.
“That was the best scrimmage we’ve had in my seven years here,” Luther said. “The kids played real well. The offense got a lot of big plays, both running the ball and throwing the ball with downfield passes. The defense allowed only one touchdown on a long pass, but other than that we only allowed about two first downs.
“If we can play with that kind of effort and execution on Friday nights, we could be good. I’m really excited to see how we play on Saturday.”
Chambersburg’s game will not be available on the NFHS live stream or on Mid Penn Broadcasting on either live stream or audio. Roxamore Sports Network (www.roxamoresports.com) will broadcast all six games via virtual pay-for-view. A link will be provided on MidPennBroadcasting.com.