BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – Does the past really matter? Is it something we can build upon, or sometimes, something we need to recover from?
Or is the past past? What happened there stays there and we begin fresh and new each new year.
Those are just some of the questions that the Palmyra football team is grappling with as it prepares to kick off its 2011 campaign.
The Cougars are coming off one of those ‘What Could’ve Been’ years. In addition to being the story in Lebanon County football in 2010, Palmyra came about as close as a squad can come to qualifying for the postseason.
Fractions of a power rating point – or one more win – separated the 6-4 Cougars from their first District Three Class AAA playoff berth in school history. Palmyra is still the only Lebanon County school to have never earned a playoff spot.
“As an athlete and a coach, you always want to get better,” said Palmyra’s fifth-year head coach, Chris Pope. “But every team is different. This year’s group has its own goals that it want to achieve.
“We were excited that we put together a winning season,” Pope added. “But it was exciting and disappointing at the same time because we were percentage points away from making the playoffs.”
Palmyra is a bit of an oddity in that it lost a good solid group of players, but also returns the same. When Palmyra lines up to start the season it will have eight of the same players starting on defense and eight back on offense.
“This group, their goal is to make it to the playoffs,” said Pope. “It’s something we’ve been hovering around. We’ve been close, but we’ve never been there. That would be great for this team to achieve.
“We have a retreat every year where we discuss what we want to accomplish,” continued Pope. “We want to have another winning season. That’s something Palmyra hasn’t done in 30-some years, have back-to-back winning seasons. To achieve those things, it’s a matter of steps.”
Palmyra will feature linebacker/guard Jon Hicks, a Connecticut University recruit and possibly the County’s only Division One player this season, the locale’s top runner in Preston Bare, speed demon and receiver Jordan Harro and junior quarterback Mason Laudermilch. The Cougars also tout one of the toughest trio of linebackers in the area in Hicks, Bare and Nick Slobozien.
Palmyra is also athletic in other places, namely defensive back/running back Dominic Faiola, defensive back Andrew Latchford and defensive back Neil Demsko.
“We have a lot of experience back,” said Pope. “We have a lot of players who understand what it takes to be successful. If you do it once, you learn from your experience.”
The Cougars’ big guys – Nate Greene, Braden Petrouskie, Joe Hess, K.J. Williams, Carson White, Wyatt Yasinski and Issac Romberger – to a man, all possess good feet.
“One concern is our depth,” said Pope. “We always have to make sure we’re healthy, but that’s nothing new at Palmyra. The biggest thing now is that improvement. I feel like we’re preparing our players. I feel they’re prepared. We do have high expectations for ourselves.”
Palmyra will open its season on Friday, Sept. 2nd at Buck Swank Stadium, with the renewal of its backyard rivarly with Annville-Cleona.
“Any more it’s like the season never stops,” said Pope. “The season ends, you take two weeks off and you begin again. Our guys are ready to get started.”
2011 Palmyra Football Schedule
Day Date Opponent Place Time
Friday Sep. 02 Annville−Cleona Palmyra Area Senior High School 7:00PM
Friday Sep. 09 @ Boiling Springs Boiling Springs 7:00PM
Friday Sep. 16 Camp Hill Palmyra Area Senior High School 7:00PM
Friday Sep. 23 @ Susquenita Susquenita 7:00PM
Friday Sep. 30 Steelton−Highspire HS Palmyra Area Senior High School 7:00PM
Friday Oct. 07 @ Middletown Middletown 7:00PM
Friday Oct. 14 East Pennsboro Homecoming 7:30PM
Friday Oct. 21 @ Trinity Trinity 7:00PM
Friday Oct. 28 @ Northern Lebanon Northern Lebanon 7:00PM
Friday Nov. 04 Milton Hershey Palmyra Area Senior High School 7:00PM