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IMG_5044BY JEFF FALK

PALMYRA – It’s always been about the accumulation of things for the Palmyra football program. The Cougars’ whole has always been greater than the sum of their parts – both action-wise and individual-wise.

When everything matters, it’s much easier to build upon.

As Palmyra prepares for the upcoming 2018 scholastic campaign, their focus remains on the details. It’s simply the most productive way for the Cougars to move ahead, to do the best they can and to place their best foot forward.

“What I say to the kids is ‘Did you make Palmyra football better today?,” said Palmyra head coach Chris Pope. “I always come back to that. That’s what it’s going to take. If they can say that, we’ve taken a step in the right direction. We want to keep on getting better. You have to keep on improving, and it’s got to be steady. That’s a lot of things sometimes – how you practice, leadership and injuries.

IMG_5091“I think the kids’ biggest goal is to make it into the postseason,” continued Pope. “The last two years have been really disappointing. I think if you asked them, they’d tell you we didn’t make it over the hump last year. We’d love to win all of our games. But I think the minimum is we’d like to be in that group that plays one more week.”

For this accumulation theory to be valid, there must be some sort of carry-over from one season to the next. While 2017 was the Cougars’ third consecutive above-.500 campaign, it was also their second straight in which they finished agonizingly short of the District Three playoffs.

Perhaps short of the ultimate goal, but definitely a foundation to grow from.

IMG_5132“I think we were happy to have a winning season for the third year in-a-row,” said Pope, who’s in his 12th season as the Cougars’ head coach and 22nd with the program overall. “We had a group graduate that didn’t have a losing season. But we didn’t want to end up 6-4. We were thinking 7-3 or 8-2.

“When I first got here, any win was a reason to celebrate,” added Pope. “Now we expect to win. Our goal is continually get to the playoffs. I think our schedule will help us. We kind of redid our non-league schedule.”

The structure is in place, and so are the pieces.

The Cougars will build their offense – and to a degree pin their hopes – on multi-talented and multi-faced senior quarterback Grant Haus. Haus, who is also an accomplished lacrosse player, has the ability to spread defenses out with his running and passing.

He also likes spreading the ball around, to capable skill people like senior Sean Carter, junior Nick Morder, junior Kasey Shughart and senior Kyle Wasilewski. That may be more of a given than the Palmyra running game.

But if the Cougars can establish junior back Mike Petrino between the tackles, they could move the ball with ease. Senior Trevor Binner and junior Matt Hines will also work alongside Petrino in the backfield.

“I think we have very good leadership,” said Pope. “We have some really good seniors. And I think our offense is going to be a strength.

“Grant’s (Haus) matured,” Pope added. “He’s worked hard in the off-season. He’s stronger, faster and smarter. And we’ve got really good receivers. They have very good hands. If we can get that running-game element, we can get to the point where we surpass last year. I feel up-front we’re a little more athletic, and we can come off the ball a little bit better.”

IMG_5089The guys up-front definitely do work, and they’re poised to get the job done. Opening holes and providing protection will be senior John Pallone, senior Garrett Miller, senior Sean Stauffer, senior Zack Speece and junior Jake Miller.

“We knew on offense that we lost three linemen,” said Pope. “So it was like, ‘Hey, we’ve got to strengthen that area’. Right now, the offensive line looks really good. I feel like our linemen have really stepped up. That was a concern coming in.

“I think offenively, we’re doing well,” Pope continued. “I think our offense has come around. We have all of our skill guys back. Defensively, we’re on the right track. When you have to fill all three linebacker spots, it can be tough. We’re valuing the next 11 days (until the season opener).”

IMG_5092Pope is currently working with a roster of 41 that is fairly experience-laden. Of that group, 33 are upperclassmen, either seniors or juniors.

“We’re excited about the season,” said Pope. “I’m happy with the way things are going. There’s always things players want to accomplish. Last year, that whole idea of us wanting to get into the postseason, I think that has stuck with us.

“I think at that linebacker spot, they’re doing well,” continued Pope. “They started out at ground zero. There’s a lot of small things they’re working on. I think they’ve been improving. Last week and this week they’ve come along really well.”

IMG_5030Palmyra will open its 2018 slate on August 26th when it renews its rivalry with Hershey at Buck Swank Stadium. The Cougars’ schedule does not include a Lebanon County opponent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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2017 Palmyra Football Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME OUTCOMES
08/25 *
Camp Hill
7:00 PM W 24-21
09/01
West Perry
7:00 PM W 28-24
09/08
Elco
7:00 PM W 35-7
09/15
@Donegal
7:00 PM W 28-14
09/29 *
@Boiling Springs
7:00 PM W 24-6
10/06 *
Middletown
7:30 PM L 10-17
10/13 *
@Steel-High
7:30 PM L 14-24
10/20 *
East Pennsboro
7:00 PM L 21-55
10/27 *
@Trinity
7:00 PM W 16-8
11/03 *
@Milton Hershey
7:00 PM L 9-21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 2018 Palmyra Football Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
08/24
Hershey
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
08/31
Mechanicsburg
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
09/07
@Garden Spot
7:00 PM Garden Spot High School
09/14 *
East Pennsboro
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
09/21 *
@Camp Hill
7:00 PM Camp Hill High School
09/28 *
Steel-High
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
10/05 *
@Boiling Springs
7:00 PM Boiling Springs High School
10/12 *
Milton Hershey
7:30 PM Palmyra High School
10/19 *
@Trinity
7:00 PM Trinity High School
10/26 *
@Middletown
7:00 PM Middletown High School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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