LEHMAN TWP. ‚?? Lake-Lehman football has come a long way from a two-year period where only two victories were recorded.
The journey from those dismal seasons ‚?? 2006 and 2007 ‚?? isn‚??t over just yet. While the Black Knights have posted winning seasons and playoff appearances since then, third-year coach Jerry Gilsky wants the program to be a perennial contender.
Just like the two other Class 2A teams the Black Knights have chased recently ‚?? GAR and Wyoming Area.
‚??I always say this to the kids. I want to hear Lake-Lehman in the top three,‚?Ě Gilsky said. ‚??I‚??m always hearing either Wyoming Area or GAR. I hear guys talk about Meyers. I hear guys talk about Northwest.
‚??I always want to be in the top three and I feel the past two years we‚??ve been in the top three. We want to keep that.‚?Ě
There might not be another WVC team with a bigger backfield than 240-pound Dustin Jones and 200-pound Brady Butler ‚?? a pair of juniors. Jones rushed for 769 yards, and 7.1 per carry, as a sophomore. Butler had just 35 carries, but averaged 7 yards. New starting quarterback Bill Hillman adds another run option, but can also throw as well.
‚??Everyone knows what we like to do here,‚?Ě Gilsky said.
And that means getting wingbacks such as Tom Donovan, Josh Sayre and Josh Van Scoy involved in running Lehman‚??s offensive staple ‚?? the jet sweep. Donovan and Sayre bring some experience into the season.
One key part missing will be big tight end Kyle Romanofski, who will miss the season after a knee injury suffered during a passing scrimmage in the summer. Gilsky was expecting big things from him. Instead, the Black Knights will turn to senior Brent Hizny and sophomores Kody Pachamovich and Trevor Space to fill the void.
The situation on the interior like looks positive with Tom Chipego and Brian Derhammer returning as guards and Pete Borum at tackle. At 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, Borum is one of the biggest linemen in the WVC. He‚??s also athletic, having played on the basketball team.
D.J. Scavone will be the center and either Mason Little or Alex Major ‚?? both sophomores ‚?? will be at the other tackle spot.
Simply put, the defense must perform better against the top teams in the area. It allowed 191 points in five losses ‚?? all against postseason qualifiers ‚?? and 47 against non-playoff teams in four of the five victories. Nor did it create enough turnovers in those losses, finishing with a minus-13 turnover ratio in those games.
‚??We‚??re more experienced defensively,‚?Ě Gilsky said. ‚??My focus point in the offseason was defense. Statistically, we had a pretty good defense, but the first three games of the year didn‚??t reflect that.
‚??I really want to instill defense here at Lehman. We know what we do offensively, but defensively we want to establish that identity.‚?Ě
Returning starters Borum, Derhammer and Jones will anchor the line. Chipego, Major and Scavone will also play up front.
Butler is back as a starter at linebacker. He‚??ll be paired with Pachamovich or Zachary Jayne. Donovan, Van Scoy and Josh Winters will work the perimeters.
Hillman will be at free safety, although Josh Yaple could see time there. Sayre, who had three interceptions in 2011, will be at a corner spot with Zach Chabala and Anthony Ferrari seeing playing time as well.
Lehman looks like a .500 team on paper. Whether the Black Knights deviate much from there depends on a lot of factors. They need the young guys to step up and the veterans to take another step forward to be in contention for the postseason.
A few missteps and Lehman could finish under .500 for the first time since 2009.