Fourteen teams attended District 4 media day on Tuesday. The annual event was hosted by the District 4 Coaches Association at the Williamsport Country Club.
Coaches and players were given the opportunity to address media outlets and talk about several important topics surrounding their team as they enter the new season.
Listed below is a key brief synopsis of the major topics discussed at media day.
Each season brings along new challenges, regardless of the returning talent a team may have. Losing players to graduation is just one challenge a team may face, filling those voids was just one of the trending topics for each club at media day.
Danville’s head coach Jim Keiser remarked that this year’s freshman class includes nine players, five of which will likely start or earn important roles for his club. The young supporting class will compliment Kayden Riley, who is expected to return as the Ironmen’s QB in 2019.
Phil Davis, head coach of Milton, explained that his team is also very young due to the amount of players lost to graduation. Bloomsburg and South Williamsport will need several players to step up at different positions but both teams stressed the importance of improving each day and focusing on what it is their respective teams are doing rather than their opponents.
AVOIDING THE BUG
Injuries happen in every sport and are obviously more likely to occur in contact sports. Loyalsock’s head coach Justin Van Fleet talked openly about several injuries that plagued his team a year ago while other coaches noted the importance of staying injury-free while teams attempt to have successful years.
BACK IN THE MIX
Unlike the majority of teams in District 4, Shamokin returns a lot of starters — including nine of offense and nine on defense.
Henry Hynoski will return for his second year as head coach for the Indians and briefly mentioned the importance returning players that were able to get valuable experience a season ago.
“We’re not going anywhere. We’re gonna keep building off of what we established last year. I think we surprised a heck of a lot of people with our record last year and the outcomes of certain games. Just building off of that, maintaining that discipline and keeping that culture, that’s what it’s all about. Just loving the game, you can tell they truly love the game. They want to be out here. They don’t want to be away from football. They look forward to coming to practice and conditioning sessions and lifting. That’s what it takes,” Hynoski said about his team’s dedication to the gridiron.
With quarterback Collin Bowers, Blake Zalar and Nathan Miller graduating and moving on to the next level, there will be some battles to see who can take over and make a name for themselves.
Hynoski is looking forward to seeing who will rise up and fight for new opportunities.
“Right now at the quarterback spot we have three guys competing and they all want it. And you love that, competition brings the best out of everybody. Replacing Zalar, we got guys in there competing for that spot at guard. It’s neat to watch and it’s going to fun in training camp to watch these competitions develop,” Hynoski said about competitions taking place in Shamokin’s training camp this year.
While Lewisburg did lose some talent from a season ago, head coach Marc Persing talked confidently about his returning quarterback Nick Shedleski, who will likely hold the school’s passing records when this season comes to a close.
When asked about his focus coming into 2019, Shedleski said, “Just being a four-year starter, I’m trying to use all of the knowledge and experience I’ve gained to help my team be successful.”
Speaking of setting records, Julian Fleming already holds most of Southern Columbia’s receiving records but teammate Gaige Garcia is on pace to break Hynoski’s rushing record of 7,165 yards and 113 touchdowns. Garcia already has 6,272 yards and 106 touchdowns heading into his senior season.
After winning back-to-back Class 2A state titles, it may seem that Southern Columbia may not have a lot to prove. Returning a senior class that head coach Jim Roth noted is a “once in a career class,” the Tigers will have an opportunity to make a statement prove what their team is capable of with their opening game against Hammond, a talented team that has dominated the state of South Carolina the way Southern has the past few seasons.
When asked about what the team hopes to prove with the nationally broadcasted game, senior linebacker Max Tillett said he hopes to “show everyone we’re not just some small school and that we can play against the bigger school’s out there.”
Wide receiver and Ohio State University commit Julian Fleming added that SCA will need their o-line to continue to improve, but sees plenty of reasons to be pleased with the Tigers entering the new year.
“We have a lot of returning skill players. Preston is coming back in at quarterback. We have a lot of chemistry there already. I think we’ll be good with our skill players. I just think we’ll need our line to work a little bit. We know we can have a successful season. Personal achievements: obviously a state championship — a 100 % it’s the goal — maybe break a record or two, but I’ll take a state championship 100 %,” Fleming said about the goals and positives about the upcoming season.
Mount Carmel will rely on its senior class to carry the Red Tornadoes back to a spot in the District 4 Class 2A title game. The 12 seniors, which is the most MCA has had with John Darrah at the helm, include key starters like Noah Berkoski, Jack Chapman and Tommy Reisinger. Running back Shane Weidner, who posted a solid stat line last season, will likely see even more carries this season due to the absence of John Ayres, a four-year starter who was a senior in 2018.
“Johnny was kind of our workhorse the last couple years, but at the same time we’ve had different guys that have contributed. Shane made some starts as a freshman, touched the ball a lot and made a bunch of important plays throughout is career and last year he close to 1,000 yards. Obviously, he’s a big guy to pick up the slack as well as some other younger guys — guys we’re hoping to contribute,” Darrah added about his rushing attack.
The Red Tornadoes will take on the defending District 4 Class 2A state champions in Southern Columbia in Week 2 of the new season.
Darrah stated that his team focuses on going 1-0 every week and not thinking far ahead, but acknowledged the magnitude of the matchup.
“It’s definitely a big game and something to circle on your schedule every year,” Darrah noted about the showdown with the Tigers.