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IMG_5278BY JEFF FALK

ANNVILLE – Accountability is a people skill. It is not an essential element for team sports, but it is an important detail for success.

It is the obligation of being responsible for one’s actions and making others responsible for their actions. Not just for certain people, accountability is for everyone.

What it really boils down to is making self-sacrifices for the greater good.

It is also a very good message to teach young people growing up.

IMG_5186Not only is ‘Accountability’ the word of the day, it may also hold the key to Annville-Cleona’s upcoming football season.

As the Little Dutchmen ready for the upcoming fall campaign, head coach Matt Gingrich is using it as a tool to bond teammates and create chemistry. He believes that accountability will ultimately lead to better performances on Friday nights.

“I think our biggest area for improvement is being able to hold each other accountable,” said Gingrich. “A lot of these kids feel if you tell someone something they don’t like they can’t be friends. But I think that’s the highest form of friendship. That’s our biggest concern right now.

IMG_5209“I think it comes down from the captains,” continued Gingrich. “But I think there’s kids giving others too many free passes. When I was growing up, when we saw somebody not working, we would say something. I believe that if you take it easy on your buddies you’re not really friends. If they can’t make each other better, they’re not going to get better.”

That concept of accountability was one of the main areas of focus when Annville-Cleona opened training camp with heat acclimation last week. The Little Dutchmen are coming off a 6-4 2017, but personal responsibility has been one of the trademarks of Gingrich’s three-year stint at the A-C helm.

“We were truly impressed with the start (of 2017),” said Gingrich, who’s old-school, but not old. “We got off better than we expected. But we didn’t end the season the way we would’ve hoped. At the end of the season, we didn’t live up to expectations.

“Last year matters if they (his players) want it to matter,” Gingrich continued. “We put a great deal of emphasis on getting into the weight room and playing three sports. Some took the success from last year and parlayed it into a great off-season. But we always try to build off last year.”

The Little Dutchmen welcomed 42 student-athletes to their preseason practices, a program-high under Gingrich. Annville-Cleona returns eight offensive starters, as well as a similar number on the defensive side of the ball.

“I have about five kids who didn’t come out that I was hoping would come out,” said Gingrich. “The depth charts for our linebackers and defensive backs haven’t changed in two years. Now we have some seniors. We’re pretty enthusiastic about what’s going on, just the vibe around the team. A lot of our linemen were sophomores last year and now they’re juniors.

“I like that a lot of them try to get better everyday,” added Gingrich. “Their ability to listen and comprehend, and being able to put it into a process, is good. But I still feel like I have to talk to them, instead of them talking to each other.”

One of the interesting items which has unfolded at Annville-Cleona’s training camp – an issue that Gingrich hopes will soon play itself out – has been the three-way competition at quarterback. Junior Josh Speraw, junior Tyler Long and junior Jeremy Bours, Jr. are all talented, bring something special to the table and know the offense.

IMG_5205What ultimately might separate one from the others is decision-making. Yet what’s important to remember is that all three can play other positions.

“It’s going to be one of those three kids,” said Gingrich, who also has capable sophomore Noah Safford waiting in the wings. “With option football, they’ll probably all run quarterback. They all have pros and cons. But all those guys play positions besides quarterback. We’re looking for a quarterback to take leadership in the huddle. We have to have the quarterback who makes the best reads.

“How do I know how they’re going to react until that first scrimmage?,” Gingrich added. “It’s all fine and dandy when we’re on the practice field.”

When a hand-off or a pitch is called for, the Little Dutchmen will feature a stable of potential running workhorses. Senior Caleb Turner, junior Evan Heilman and junior Romeo Varela are all backs who possess talent and experience.

“Honestly, it might sound like a cliche, but we don’t ever have a goal for wins and losses,” said Gingrich. “But we have a lot of goals. I don’t want to lose games we shouldn’t lose.

IMG_5289“My goal is to wake up on Saturday mornings and know that we did everything possible to win on Friday nights,” continued Gingrich. “Knowing that we played hard, we played fast, we played smart and we played together. I just want to see us get after it. If we do that, I think we have a good chance to go to districts. We’d love to win a district game.”

The Little Dutchmen don’t figure to throw the ball too often. But when they do they’ll have opportunistic receivers in senior Hayden Funck, senior Jalen Price, senior Gabriel Burris, ultra-versatile junior Daniel Tobias and junior Dylan Scheer to seek out.

“One thing that’s tough is that up until last week, we didn’t have an idea of exactly who was coming out,” said Gingrich. “I had all of these preconceived thoughts, some of which rang true. We have to decide who our quarterback is. Another thing is getting these kids off the ball. We have to get used to coming off the ball low. And we’ve got to figure out our depth.”

IMG_5214Ultimately the Little Dutchmen will only be good as their guys up-front. Annville-Cleona has a good crew of blockers, one that features senior captain and last year’s Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three lineman-of-the-year Connor Williams, senior captain Gavin Stout, senior Hunter Leroux, senior Andrew McCafferty, junior Dante Bonila, junior Matthew Pajski, junior Dion Lopez, junior Jaren Bomgardner, junior Trevor Porche and sophomore Logan Wagner.

Annville-Cleona will embark on its 2018 journey at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 24th when it hosts Milton Hershey.

“This summer I’ve been doing a lot of deep thinking,” concluded Gingrich. “I can’t judge my success by our wins and losses. I judge it by how many kids come back and who have made good lives for themselves. I think we’re really successful in that way. I think a lot of the kids who have come through here have made great decisions.”

A tangible result of accountability.

 

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To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to  https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2018 Annville-Cleona Football Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
08/24
Milton Hershey
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
08/31
@Octorara
7:00 PM Octorara Area High School
09/07
Ephrata
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/14 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/21 *
@Columbia
7:00 PM Columbia High School
09/28 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/05 *
@Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Pequea Valley High School
10/12 *
@Donegal
7:00 PM Donegal High School
10/19 *
Elco
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/26
@Lebanon
7:00 PM Lebanon High School

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2017 Annville-Cleona Football Outcomes

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
08/25
@Trinity
7:00 PM L 34-36
09/01
@Biglerville
7:00 PM W 51-13
09/08
Camp Hill
7:00 PM W 39-20
09/15
Hanover
7:00 PM W 21-14
09/22 *
Elco
7:00 PM W 37-14
09/29 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM L 0-45
10/07 *
Columbia
1:00 PM
10/13 *
@Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM L 13-41
10/27 *
Pequea Valley
7:00 PM W 22-14
11/03 *
Donegal
7:00 PM L 6-54

 

 

 

 

 

 

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