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9 years ago
Cedar Crest Defines Improvement in its Own Way

BY JEFF FALK

SOUTH LEBANON – Teams don’t go from 1-9 to 9-1 in one season. Just doesn’t happen.

Re-tooling, re-building takes time. And it comes in increments and phases. And sometimes the initial improvements are hard to put a finger on.

The Cedar Crest football program will take steps forward during the 2012 campaign. But the improvements might not be noticeable to the naked eye of win-starved Falcon fans.

They could come in the form of giving up less points, yielding fewer yards to opponents, churning out more yards, scoring more points, being in more games in the fourth quarter and receiving more personal accolades. Or they could come in the form of a few extra reps in the weight room, an additional 20 minutes on the practice field and being more cohesive as a unit.

“I don’t think there’s anything different here than the other two programs I took over,” said Tom Waranavage, who’s in his fourth year as the Falcons’ boss. “The only thing that’s different is the caliber of teams we’re playing week in and week out. It just takes more time. It’s tough.

“One of the other coaches told me, ‘Rebuilding a program in Section One is tough,'” Waranavage continued. “I see a lot of things we’re doing better. We have more kids in the weight room. I have the kids in a football home room. Our kids, for the most part, keep their noses clean. Our kids are doing community service.”

One can only assume that Cedar Crest has already hit rock bottom, based on how much of a struggle the last two 1-9 campaigns have been for it. And if that is the case, then there is nowhere for the Falcons to go but up.

Losing can become a habit, and it has a way of reverberating through a program, through a school, through a community.

“I don’t think you can forget about it,” said Waranavage. “You’ve got to learn from it. You’ve got to analyze why it went bad and see if there’s anything you can do to change it. Sometimes teams are pretty good, and sometimes you made them look better than they are. I’m not sure I want the kids to totally forget about it because that way it’ll make it all that much better when we do have success.

“The last two years,” Waranavage added,  “it hasn’t been easy to go to the grocery store. It hasn’t been easy. If anyone has the impression it’s been fun, then I’d like them to think about it.”

Change for the Falcons could come in the form of the infusion of new blood, something to keep an eye on this season. Cedar Crest will feature a solid core group of upperclassmen, with a mixture of upcoming talent thrown in.

But everything that Cedar Crest does this year will revolve around the play of senior Nick Cascarino, a quarterback who can run and throw with equal proficiency. In addition to a successful season, Cascarino is entertaining thoughts of playing football at the next level.

“We’re not putting anything more on him than any of the other quarterbacks we’ve had,” said Waranavage. “He’s suited for the offense and he’s worked hard. He’s a student of the game and he wants to win. He wants to throw the ball. But he realizes if we’re successful and we’re running the ball, he’s OK with that. And the kids respect him.

“The thing we need to work on is just consistency, overall,” continued Waranavage. “When we have a good play at practice I’ll yell out,  ‘Now get another one.’ That’s how football is played. I want them to be good every play because consistent teams don’t beat themselves.”

Cascarino does have some skill around him. Hard-running Erickson Gonzalez , fleet seniors Steve Miller, Dalton Kalbach and juniors Adam Gilson and Josh Lebo, versatile junior Gage Ocker, sophomore back Damon Edwards and freshman slot Evan Horn will accentuate Cascarino’s skills and make him better.

“I like the fact that we’re going to continue to get better at the end of the day,” said Waranavage. “We’re going to play some younger kids. But these kids can play. We’re not playing them because we have to.

“They’ve (his charges) worked their tails off,” Waranavage added. “We had a good camp. We had one day when we were a little lackluster, but they were frustrated. I like the resiliency in these guys. They knew we were going to be hard on them and they knew why we were going to be hard on them.”

Up front, the Falcons’ trenches are manned by senior Steven Galbraith, senior John Zug, senior Ryan Young, junior Devon Lutz and junior Austin Elliott.

“Things have gone well,” said Waranavage. “We’ve had very physical, very tough, very demanding practices. It was, by far, the toughest camp we’ve had. We’re trying to instill that in our kids. If you think you’re tough and don’t make many mistakes, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win.

“This is the best coaching staff I’ve had,” added Waranavage. “That takes some time, to put a staff together and to get them to believe totally in the things you believe in. I look at our summer. It used to be we’d have one or two nights that were really a mess. It was just bad. We didn’t have one of those. The demeanor of the kids is different. I’m starting to see the kids buy into that mentality.”

Over the past few seasons, Cedar Crest’s defense hasn’t been good. And that’s putting it kindly. Perhaps more accurate would be to say it’s been yielding, porous or shredded.

“You’re never satisfied,” said Waranavage. “You can’t become complacent. In our first scrimmage (vs. Conestoga Valley) we had some defensive breakdowns. In our second scrimmage (against York) the defense carried us the whole time. Offensively, we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. But the defense kept fighting and battling.

“We were more physical than we have been,” continued Waranavage. “When one side of the ball isn’t on, the other’s going to have to carry it. In the past, if our offense wasn’t on par, the defense wouldn’t fight the way it did in our scrimmages.”

This season, the Falcons won’t measure success in terms of wins and losses.

“We’ve kept it very simple with goals,” said Waranavage. “The next game we play is going to be the most important game. I’d like to see our last game be the best game we played. That means we’ve gotten better.”

The Falcons’ 50-plus-man roster boasts a total of 33 juniors and seniors.

“Our numbers aren’t great,” said Waranavage, “but we aren’t losing kids. Our kids stay. We haven’t lost a single kid. But I believe we’re going to see positive results with our numbers from the kids who are currently in the eighth and ninth grades. Everybody wants to win on Friday nights.”

Cedar Crest will open its 2012 campaign the same way it has for the past 40 years, with a Friday night date with rival Lebanon High. The Cedars have won two straight Cedar Bowls, three of the last four and five of the last seven.

“I just think it’s a great environment,” said Waranavage. “It’s a great way to start a season. You know you’re going to have fans in the stands. Football is a sport where you put in a lot of work for ten games. It’s rivalry week. Against Lebanon, you’ve got to be ready. We’re not going to lay down for them and they’re not going to lay down for us. I expect a good four-quarter game come Friday night.

“The real preparations for Lebanon started Saturday morning,” Waranavage added. “But during training camp, a hint of everything you do is about them. The real preparation like Xs and Os started Saturday, and continued this week.”

 

2012 Cedar Crest Falcon Football Schedule

 

Fri Aug/31

7:00 pm
@ Lebanon High School

Fri Sep/07

7:00 pm
vs. Lower Dauphin High School

Fri Sep/07

7:00 pm
vs. Lower Dauphin High School

Fri Sep/14

7:00 pm
vs. Hershey High School

Fri Sep/14

7:00 pm
vs. Hershey High School

Fri Sep/21

7:00 pm
@ Warwick Senior High School

Fri Sep/28

7:00 pm
vs. Wilson High School

Fri Sep/28

7:00 pm
vs. Wilson High School

Fri Oct/05

7:00 pm
@ Manheim Township HS

Fri Oct/12

7:00 pm
vs. Hempfield Senior High School

Fri Oct/19

7:00 pm
vs. McCaskey HS

Fri Oct/26

7:00 pm
@ Lancaster Catholic HS

Fri Nov/02

7:00 pm
@ Penn Manor High School

 

 

 

 

 

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