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10 years ago
Raiders’ Smoke Signal: ‘Send More Warriors!’

 BY JEFF FALK

 Think of the Elco football program as a magician, an illusionist, a Houdini, if you will. For years, the Raiders have been getting a lot out of a little.

 But they’ve been doing it with smoke, mirrors, sleight of hand and by pulling rabbits out of their helmets.

 Last year, the numbers caught up with Elco, both figuratively and literally. With its usual marginal turnout for a Class AAA school and beset by injuries, the once-proud Raiders limped to a 3-7 finish.

 Elco lost its first six games, then went 3-1 over its last four.

 Ominous warning to all those who enter“It was a great group of kids who worked their butts off,” said Elco head coach Mark Evans of 2010. “But we got bit by the injury bug. We dodged that injury bug for 13 years, but last year it caught up with us. We were truly impacted by injuries.

 “We got settled,” Evans continued. “And the kids didn’t quit. They hung in there and we finished strong. But we’ve always been an injury away from not being very good.”

 A bit of magic may be required for Elco to enjoy a successful season on the scoreboard this season. After losing 19 players to graduation, the Raiders will rely on a handful of key performers and youthful exuberance.

 “It’s hard to say how we’re going to do this season,” said Evans. “We have a good core group back, but there’s not a lot of experience. We’re going to have to learn on the job. Our 30-something roster is something routine at Elco. But it’s not like Elco has ever been blessed with a ton of kids coming out for football.”

 Elco returns just a handful of starters on each side of the ball, but another three or four on offense and defense with what Evans called ‘ game experience’ or ‘contributing experience’.  Perhaps the most notable of the group are senior running back/linebacker Dylan Hickernell, a solid performer, sophomore tailback and safety Cameron Strause, a speed demon, and Nate Litschi, a big-play receiver who was penciled in at the quarterback spot before getting hurt last season.

 This year’s starting quarterback will be sophomore Anthony Pletz, while 6-5, 265-pound Schuyler Harting will provide meat and muscle up front.

 “I really like the way they get along,” said Evans. “It’s a young football team and we’ved pushed them really hard. But I try to let them know the reason we’re doing what we’re doing. We’ve grown everyday. From scrimmage number one to scrimmage number two we’ve jumped. The quicker they get it, the better off we’re going to be.

 “They’re motivated. We had some of the best effort we’ve ever had during the off-season,” Evans continued. “But we’ve got to grow. We’ve got to grow up. We have to grow up in a hurry. We can’t bring freshmen and sophomores along slowly.”

 Make a difference!Also for the Raiders, Nick Sprenkle will play a wide receiver/cornerback role, Tommy Price will attempt a transition from tight-end to offensive line, versatile Adam Shoemaker will fill in where needed – tight end, fullback or linebacker and sophomore corner/receiver Derek Miller will foster a bright future. First-year player and freshman, 6-4, 250-pound Patrick Adams is expected to start at one of the tackles on a line that will also feature Chris Kreider, while Lucas Heck, a senior captain of the boys’ soccer team, will do some place kicking.

 “I still think there’s ten kids in that school building who could help these guys go out and win,” said Evans. “My job is to take them farther than they can take themselves. This youthfulness can be extremely positive. This is a special group. I can’t wait to see how they perform. The ultimate compliment players can pay their coach is to play four quarters.

 “Right now, I want to continue to improve and make sure we’re maximizing our opportunities,” added Evans. “There’s so few opportunities for us. We’re never going to get those back. The expectations are watch these kids grow up, win some ball games along the way and have some fun.”

 Being the proud father-figure that he is, Evans is currently hanging his hat on the fact that. of last year’s roster of 39 players, 89 percent played at least one other sport and 50 percent played at least two other sports.

 “We’re always involved in goal setting,” said Evans. “If you don’t have direction, any road will take you there. Our goal is to win the section, improve each week and make the district playoffs. We want to attack every day and make sure we’re getting better.”

 The Raiders will kick off their 2011 campaign on Friday, Sept. 2nd against Hamburg.

                                     2011 Elco Raider Football Roster

Head Coach: Evans, Mark Varsity Assistant: Carley, John

Varsity Assistant: Sandoe, Joe Varsity Assistant: Thomas Jr., Earl

JH Assistant: Bashore, Bob JH Assistant: Hall, Wyatt

JH Assistant: Newswanger, Eric Varsity Volunteer: Fulk, Derek

Varsity Volunteer: Lux, Michael JH Volunteer: Thomas, Derek

Varsity Volunteer: Williams, Robert

Home# Away# Name Position Class Height Weight

Kererise, Kevin K/P Sophomore 5’6″ 155

1 1 Kline, Philip WR/DB Sophomore 5’6″ 110

2 2 Heck, Lucas K/P Senior 5’9″ 145

3 3 Lane, Brandon WR/LB Junior 5’9″ 170

4 4 Achey, Cole WR/DB Senior 5’8″ 135

5 5 Litschi, Nathanael WR/QB/DB Senior 6’4″ 175

6 6 Miller, Derek WR/DB Sophomore 6’0′ 165

7 7 Evans, Tucker QB/WR/DE Sophomore 5’11” 175

10 10 Gonzalez, Fernando WR/DB Sophomore 5’10” 145

10 10 Pletz, Anthony QB/DB Sophomore 5’11” 170

11 11 Holter, Chase WR/DB Sophomore 5’5″ 125

17 17 RITTLE, JOSHUA QB/DB Sophomore 5’6″ 160

21 21 Strause, Cameron QB/RB/LB Sophomore 5’11” 170

22 22 Alleman, Uriah RB/DB Senior 5’8″ 160

24 24 BENNETT, DYLAN WR/DB Sophomore 5’2″ 110

25 25 Fisher, Joseph WR/LB Senior 6’0″ 155

29 29 Finkey, Heriberto “Junior” WR/DB Junior 5’6″ 150

30 30 Shoemaker, Adam TE/LB Junior 6’1″ 190

38 38 Price, Thomas TE/DL Senior 6’0″ 175

40 40 Hickernell, Dylan RB/LB Senior 5’8″ 175

42 42 Keefer, Kyle RB/LB Junior 5’11” 170

54 54 Hickernell, Christopher OL/DL Senior 5’10” 190

56 56 Kreider, Christopher OL/DL Junior 6’0″ 215

57 57 Carley, Zachary OL/DL Junior 5’7″ 205

61 61 Rhoades, Steven OL/DL Sophomore 5’11” 220

 71 71 Pecherin, Andrey OL/DL Junior 5’11” 195

72 72 ADAMS, PATRICK OL/DL Freshman 6’4″ 260

75 75 SanSeverino, Vincent OL/DL Sophomore 6’1″ 205

76 76 Harting, Schuyler OL/DL Junior 6’4″ 260

77 77 Debelius, Dalton OL/DL Junior 5’11” 280

78 78 TRACEY, ASHTEN OL/DL Sophomore 5’10” 185

79 79 Fies, Matthew OL/DL Junior 6’2″ 265

80 80 Gilbertson, John RB/LB Senior 6’0″ 180

81 81 Hagmayer, Daniel WR/DB Junior 5’11” 135

87 87 SPRENKLE, NICHOLAS WR/DB Junior 6’1″ 165

 

 

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