PLYMOUTH – Matt Ferrara, Michael Anderson and Taylor Bolesta return as starters in the line on both sides of the ball, but it is an improvement in team speed that Dallas football coach Rich Mannello points to as a possible needed difference from a year ago.
“We think this could be our fastest group, especially on defense, which is the way you have to be right now with all these spread offenses,” said Mannello, who guided the Mountaineers to a successful season opener with a 53-21 rout of Tunkhannock.
Ferrara is back as a guard/defensive end, but is also doing some cross-training at fullback and tight end, in case he is needed there.
“I feel a lot faster this season and that’s something I needed to work on last season,” Ferrara said. “I’m just trying to go out my senior season with a bang.”
Cuba returns to lead the defense as an inside linebacker and could also be a bigger factor at fullback, a position where he saw some time last season.
“I had to get stronger, get faster, which I think I did in the offseason,” Cuba said. “Now, I just have to transfer the weightlifting out onto the football field on Friday nights.”
Dallas has many of the same players back from a squad that went 7-3 in the regular season last year after winning just two games in 2016.
Quarterback Michael Starbuck returns, along with tight end Jack Farrell, receivers Matt Maransky and Luke DelGaudio, offensive lineman Josh Balera and the tailback combination of Danny Meuser and Lenny Kelley.
Schuback was 8-for-10 for 174 yards and five touchdowns passing in the opener.
Dylan Schuster moves from cornerback to linebacker on defense.
Christian Motley, Kelley and Maransky are all back in the secondary.
Xander Shaner is likely to be part of the line while sophomores R.J. Wren, a quarterback/free safety, and Nick Gashi, a fullback, are trying to work their way into the mix.
Dallas is in a group of 13 teams trying to land eight spots in the District 2 Class 4A playoffs.
“It seems like everybody has the same issue,” Mannello said during the Wyoming Valley Conference Media Day. “If you can keep the offensive line healthy and you go over business every day in camp, trying to get better, not just trying to get through camp, then we’ll be successful.”
Dallas is at Crestwood Friday for its second game.