BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – Football is a collaborative pursuit. Perhaps the ultimate scholastic team sport.
The challenge is to get five to work as one, then to get 11 to perform as one, then to get 22 to come together as a unit. And ultimtely, 40 to work as one.
It’s a process, one that builds upon each preceding step.
It would seem that the key to Annville-Cleona’s football success this season hinges upon how and exactly when that formation occurs. Because the pieces are certainly there.
“We talk about ‘me’ over ‘we’,” said Matt Gingrich, who’s entering his fifth season as the Little Dutchmen’s head coach. “We want to go from selfishness to selflessness. That’s what we talk about every day. If you do the little things right, big things are going to happen.
“We have a players’ committee and they created goals for the team this year,” continued Gingrich. “No ‘D’s or ‘F’s in the class room. One hundred percent attendance at practice. The next one is accountability. But they also want to win the Section (Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League). They want to beat the big three – Milton Hershey, Lancaster Catholic and Donegal. And it would be nice to win a (District Three) playoff game. Annville-Cleona has never won a playoff game, and it’s time for that to end.”
For the Little Dutchmen, last season was simply a proliferation of a successful culture that Gingrich and his staff are consistently fostering. Annville-Cleona went 7-3 during the regular season and 7-2 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, before making another District Three postseason appearance.
“The one thing I try to impress upon the kids is that last year was a good year,” said Gingrich. “But now we’ve got to do it now. I was never a part of a team that had so many injuries. We had some freak stuff happen. I think the kids feel like they left some games out there. I’d say the biggest thing they regret is the Bermudian Springs game.
“Yeah, I think every year matters,” Gingrich continued. “For me, it’s about creating a tradition. The big thing is building upon each phase of the season.”
What’s worked under Gingrich is a triple-option approach that features fundamental line play, the honing of a hanful of basic plays and unselfish skill people. The forward pass is simply employed to keep defenses honest.
This season, Annville-Cleona possesses the perfect personnel to make that approach go, again. It revolves around the decision-making of senior quarterback Junior Bours and the hard running of seniors Evan Heilman, Tyler Long and Josh Speraw, and junior Trevor Porche.