BY JEFF FALK
MYERSTOWN – Sure it’s a novel concept. But imagine a world where, year in and year out, the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three football championship goes through Lebanon County.
It may be a world in which we are coming closer to realize.
But one gets the distinct impression that for that to actually occur, Elco must uphold its end of the bargain. The Raiders are approaching 2015 as, if they take care of their own business, things will play out exactly the way they are supposed to.
Optimism, sprinkled with liberal helpings of caution.
“Our goals are to contend for the section championship,” said head Raider Bob Miller, “and find ourselves playing in the 11th week of the season. But we also want to continue to build the character of our young men. This is the first time our guys know they can do it, that they believe they can do it. They’re taking it upon themselves.
“Northern Lebanon, Annville-Cleona and Donegal are always at the top of our section,” continued Miller. “This year, every team seems to be on the rise. We’ll have to wait and see.”
There are, of course, tangible and intangible reasons for optimism in Raider Land. The Raiders’ leadership will be better this season, as will the experience from which they have to draw from.
It’s a talented group. It’s a balanced group. It’s a better group, all the way around.
“It’s just that we have a quality group all-around, offensively, defensively, in the line, our skill people,” said Miller, in his fourth year at the helm. “This year we have guys back everywhere. In that, I think it’s our best group.
“Practice has been going very good,” added Miller. “Guys are starting to take pride in the program. A lot of guys are buying in, and doing the right things.”
Just like most things on a gridiron, Elco’s optimism revolves around the quarterback position. Senior signal-caller Jeff Martin, a 6-4, 225-pound, four-year starter who has the interest of college scouts, will pilot an offense that will be just as adept at running the ball as it is throwing it.
He is one of eight starters returning on offense, while seven regulars remain on the defensive side of the ball.
“Jeff Martin is better because he’s mentally processing the game quicker,” said Miller. “He understands the game better. The one thing we want to do is teach the game of football.
“His most telling stat is his touchdown-to-interception ratio,” Miller continued. “Last year it was 19-to-six, and three of those he knew were interceptions when the ball left his hand. He has, I feel, gotten better than that. He’s tough. He won’t force things. If he doesn’t have it, he’ll pull it down and run with it. He is a kid who can go on and play college football. I certainly think Jeff is capable of it. There is some interest. But he’s got to do a good job this year.”
But the Raiders want to run the ball first. And when Martin does hand the ball off he can choose between ‘Thunder or Lightning’ – junior bruiser Tyler Horst or senior game-breaker Travis Zimmerman.
Martin also has targets he can turn into weapons, most notably senior receivers Kory Brown and Luis Rolon. Fans will also hear the names ‘Kyle Knight’ and ‘Ryan Rolon’ called frequently this fall.
“I really like the core guys’ work ethic,” said Miller. “Right now, I really like the fact that they’re challenging the coaches. They’re asking questions. They’re very vested. They see we could have a very good team.
“What we need to do is tackle better,” Miller added. “We need to cut down on our mental mistakes on the offensive side of the ball, things like penalties and turnovers. We have to cut those out. We can’t get down on ourselves if we fall behind by a touchdown. We have to be mentally tough.”
The development of Elco’s offensive line isn’t far behind. The Raiders’ interior unit is anchored by captains Nate Hostetter, another four-year starter, Dylan Stoops and 6-2, 310-pound Colt Umberger.
“We’re starting to see football players come out for track,” said Miller, who heads the Elco track and field program in the spring. “I have guys coming up to me and saying they can see that they’re faster. They notice the difference. They see it. You have to be proud of your team and your school, if we’re going to build anything. Then, they buy in.
“Every year, we want to get better,” continued Miller. “We certainly have an idea where we were weak last year.”
Which brings us to 2014. Last season was one in which Elco went 4-6, suffered some frustrating losses and under-achieved a bit.
“I remember being in games and being over-matched at the end,” said Miller. “I remember not being deep enough. It was a lot of hard work, and falling short.”
Since taking over for Mark Evans in 2012, Elco’s numbers under Miller have been on the incline – from 28 to 30 to 32. This season, Miller is working with 39 players.
“Yeah, I’m happy with that,” said Miller. “I’ll take eleven as long as they work their butts off. But I don’t like the idea of going in cycles. I’d like to see more steady turnouts.
“Each year we’ve been building up,” Miller added, “and they’ve (his players) been drawing from their experience. This year, I feel like we’re a little further ahead than we were in the past.”
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2015 Elco Football Roster
|10||Nathan Beamer||LB, TE||2017|
|41||James Bidelspach||LB, RB||2016|
|11||Kory Brown||DB, WR||2016|
|53||Aaron Deitz||DL, OL||2016|
|82||Liam DeRosiers||DB, WR||2018|
|57||Jacob Earhart||DL, OL||2016|
|77||Ryan Eshleman||DL, OL||2017|
|67||Jeremy Habowski||DL, OL||2016|
|88||Doug Hackman||DB, WR||2016|
|61||Dylan Hill||DL, OL||2017|
|21||Garrett Hill||DB, WR||2017|
|24||Tyler Hill||LB, RB||2017|
|7||Tyler Horst||LB, RB||2017|
|76||Nathanael Hostetter||DL, OL||2016|
|71||Nicholas Kitsch||DL, OL||2016|
|1||Cory Kline||DB, WR||2017|
|40||Jake Kline||DB, RB||2016|
|3||Kyle Knight||LB, QB||2017|
|75||Robert Kreps||DL, OL||2016|
|65||Tyler Landis||DL, OL||2018|
|5||Jeff Martin||DB, QB||2016|
|22||Cole Miller||LB, QB||2017|
|6||Dane Miller||DB, WR||2017|
|52||Kadin Miller||LB, OL||2017|
|30||Joshua Musser||LB, RB||2017|
|21||Andrew Olson||LB, WR||2016|
|78||William Petruska-Rhodes||DL, OL||2017|
|29||Shawn Price||DB, RB||2017|
|50||Mike Reed||DL, OL||2018|
|29||Brandon Rinehimer||DB, RB||2018|
|68||Daulton Risser||DL, OL||2018|
|34||Ryan Risser||LB, RB||2016|
|81||Joseph Rittle||DB, WR||2017|
|66||Tony Rodriguez||DL, OL||2016|
|17||Luis Rolon||DB, WR||2016|
|2||Ryan Rolon||LB, RB||2016|
|87||Dylan Stoops||DL, TE||2016|
|38||Austin Taylor||DB, WR||2018|
|25||Austin Thomas||LB, RB||2017|
|63||Colt Umberger||DL, OL||2016|
|60||Travis Weaver||DL, OL||2018|
|75||Kyle Yoders||DL, OL||2016|
|9||Travis Zimmerman||DB, RB||2016|
Elco Football Schedule
|Fri 09/04||7:00 pm||Away||@ Hamburg Area High School|
|Fri 09/11||7:00 pm||Away||@ Palmyra High School|
|Fri 09/18||7:00 pm||Home||vs Lebanon High School|
|Fri 09/25||7:00 pm||Home||vs Pequea Valley High School|
|Fri 10/02||7:00 pm||Away||@ Annville-Cleona High School|
|Fri 10/09||7:00 pm||Home||vs Donegal High School|
|Fri 10/16||7:00 pm||Away||@ Northern Lebanon Sr High School|
|Fri 10/23||7:00 pm||Away||@ Columbia High School|
|Fri 10/30||7:00 pm||Home||vs Ephrata High School|
|Fri 11/06||7:00 pm||Home||vs Twin Valley High School|
Elco Football History
YEAR COACH WINS LOSSES TIES SECTION DISTRICT
1969 Fred Poorman 4 4 0
1970 Fred Poorman 4 6 0
1971 Fred Poorman 2 8 0
1972 Fred Poorman 5 5 0
1973 Fred Poorman 7 2 1 Champions
1974 Fred Poorman 6 4 0
1975 Fred Poorman 8 3 0 Champions
1976 Fred Poorman 9 2 0 Champions
1977 Fred Poorman 5 6 0
1978 Fred Poorman 5 6 0
1979 Fred Poorman 10 1 0 Champions
1980 Fred Poorman 10 1 0
1981 Hal Donley 4 6 0
1982 Hal Donley 3 6 1
1983 Hal Donley 6 4 0
1984 Chuck Hill 1 9 0
1985 Chuck Hill 2 8 0
1986 Fred Poorman 1 9 0
1987 Fred Poorman 0 10 0
1988 Fred Poorman 0 10 0
1989 Jim Weaver 4 7 0
1990 Jim Weaver 7 3 0
1991 Jim Weaver 2 9 0
1992 Jim Weaver 6 5 0
1993 Jim Weaver 7 4 0
1994 Mark Kirk 1 9 0
1995 Steve Oliver 2 8 0
1996 Steve Oliver 3 7 0
1997 Steve Oliver 6 4 0
1998 Mark Evans 5 5 0
1999 Mark Evans 1 9 0
2000 Mark Evans 9 2 0 Champions Playoffs
2001 Mark Evans 9 3 0 Playoffs
2002 Mark Evans 4 6 0
2003 Mark Evans 7 3 0
2004 Mark Evans 6 4 0
2005 Mark Evans 5 5 0
2006 Mark Evans 4 6 0
2007 Mark Evans 4 6 0
2008 Mark Evans 6 5 0 Playoffs
2009 Mark Evans 8 3 0 Playoffs
2010 Mark Evans 3 7 0
2011 Mark Evans 3 7 0
2012 Robert Miller 6 4 0
2013 Robert Miller 4 6 0
2014 Robert Miller 4 6 0
TOTAL 218 253 2 5
Name of Record Record Record Holder Year
Most Touchdowns in a Game 6 Cameron Strause 2013
Most Points in one Game 36 Cameron Strause 2013
Most rushing yards in a game 313 Donald Klick 2002
Most passing yards in a season 2,630 Zach Kulp 2001
Most points in a season 170 Cameron Strause 2013
Longest field goal 46 Lucas Heck 2011
Longest interception return 100 Phil Angstadt 1971
Longest kickoff return for a TD 95 Arron Achey 2008
Most touchdowns in a season 27 Cameron Strause 2013
Most pass receiving yards 1107 Dustin Miller 2014
Most rushing yards in a season 1477 Donald Klick 2002
Most interceptions in a season 8 Rick Griffe 1975, Greg Bicher 1979
Most tackle assists in a season 114 Paul Donahue 1993
Most tackles in a season 152 Brent Nolt 2006
Most tackles in a career 455 Braden Steffy 1995-1998
Most points in a career 320 Arron Achey 2006-2009
Most extra points in a season 45 Kyle Wenger 2009
Most pass receptions in a season 70 Dustin Miller 2014
Longest touchdown run 98 Scott Hain 1978
Most pass completions in a season 207 Zach Kulp 2001
Most pass attempts in a season 353 Zach Kulp 2001
Most touchdown passes in a season 31 Zach Kulp 2001
Most sacks in one season 20.5 Vinnie Oliviero 1992
Most kick off returns for TD’s season 3 Donald Klick 2000
Longest fumble recovery for a touchdown 68 Matt Logan 2009
Longest punt return for a touchdown 90 Eric Ondo 2010
Most points in a season 394 2009
Most touchdowns in a season 56 2009
Most points scored in a game 73 1979
Most wins in a season 10 1979 & 1980
Most interceptions in a season 20 1990
Most offensive yards in a season 4,258 2009
Least points allowed 72 (11 games) 1980