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LEBANON – Football isn’t fair. In actuality, it’s cruel and unforgiving.

There are no breaks. No one cares about anyone else’s misfortune. Just because you lose a bunch of games one season, doesn’t mean you get to win a proportionate number the next.

Perhaps no one locally is more in tune with those harsh realities than the Lebanon Cedars. But instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the Cedars have transformed their past into motivation.

As the 2013 season unfolds, each and every Cedar is taking the approach that he’s the one person who can get things turned around.

“When you’re 0-10, the first thing is to cut that in half,” said Lebanon head coach Gerry Yonchiuk. “A winning season is the ultimate goal. That would be the big prize, that we got the program turned around. I feel good about our staff, about the attitude of our players.

“Coming off an 0-10 season, we thought we had to get better, and we thought that we would just because we had everybody back,” Yonchiuk added. “A year of maturity in high school football is big. The expectation level is higher. Losing is contagious, just like winning is.”

IMG_9696Yes, Lebanon went 0-10 in 2012. It was a season like many recent ones for the Cedars, as they moved the ball well in spurts, but could never really stop anyone ever. With its offensive weapons, Lebanon will only have to slow opponents this season to taste success.

“Our guys never quit,” said Yonchiuk of 2012. “We got our heads caved in week after week. But we never stopped improving. That growth carried over into this season. Now it’s about learning how to win again.

“I think there is some carry-over from last season,” Yonchiuk continued. “We started six tenth-graders last season. The confidence level, did that go up? Definitely. They knew what we expected, but now they know what we demand.”

Despite the win-less campaign, Lebanon’s participation has actually gone up. The Cedars graduated only three seniors and are practicing with 50 healthy bodies these days, a good majority of whom are juniors.

IMG_9698But a bit of a concern is that 35 of those student-athletes are skill guys, and only 15 are true linemen. Perhaps a better ratio would be those numbers in reverse.

“We have nine returning starters, on both sides of the ball,” reported Yonchiuk, who’s in his eight season of leading the Cedars. “Almost every single starter is back on offense. Actually, there was a game last year when we played all underclassmen.

“I’d love to have more linemen,” added Yonchiuk. “We’re still recruiting linemen in school. That’s the depth we need to have to have a JV program.”

In 2013, the Cedars will go as far as they enable senior quarterback Mark Pyles to take them. Pyles, a tough-as-nails performer who’s being recruited as a Division One linebacker, is an impeccable decision maker when faced with run or pass options.

Pyles’ favorite weapon is senior receiver Jeremy De La Cruz, but not his only one. Pyles also has pass catchers Taj Cintron, speedy Geronimo Rodriguez, play maker Nick Negron, Xavier Baez and emerging Heisler Jimenez at his disposal, as well as running backs Luke Eisenhour, a junior transfer from Cedar Crest, and fast Dan Caricabeur.

“I think we’re more aggressive,” said Yonchiuk. “The knowledge of our offense by our skill guys is better. We are a junior-dominated team, but with some very talented seniors.

IMG_9732“They want to have a regular-season game,” Yonchiuk continued. “I think they’re anxious to get after it. They’ve got something to prove. But this game (season-opener with Cedar Crest) isn’t going to make or break it . We’re going to win some games. I’ll tell you that.”

Physical senior lineman Darius Ramsey will show the way for Lebanon’s men in the trenches, and 6-1, 290-pound junior Connor Cummins and 6-1, 280-pound sophomore Lucas Imm will follow his lead. The Cedars will also need key contributions from senior Joe Rupponer at either nose guard or linebacker, junior Khaleem Newkirk at corner back and freshman Cody Kissinger at free safety.

“I think we need to get better on defense,” said Yonchiuk. “Regardless of schemes, we’ve got to be physical and we’ve got to get off the ball better. Mentally, we’re light years ahead of where we were last year. We want to get ‘W’s. Our goal will always be a .500 season, and go from there. But Section Two (of the Lancaster-Lebanon League) is phenomenal.

“One of our strengths is the execution of our offense,” continued Yonchiuk. “We’re moving the ball, and that’s because of Mark. Having an experienced quarterback, if you get that guy, that’s where the confidence is going to come in. And the team is going to follow him.”

Perhaps the best way for the Cedars to start putting 2012 behind them is by erasing memories of a 67-0 loss to rival Cedar Crest in the season-opening Cedar Bowl.

IMG_9693“I am pleased with the direction of our program,” said Yonchiuk. “Only myself or our staff would know what we’re looking for from our guys. I’ve always been at a place where we’ve had to build the program. But our numbers increased after a win-less season and we see that as a good sign.”



2013 Lebanon High Football Roster
Head Coach: Yonchiuk, Gerry Assistant Coach: Getz, Bud (Harold)
Assistant Coach: Liedtka, Karl Assistant Coach: Isenberg, Frank
Assistant Coach: Ruppert, Jonathan Assistant Coach: Watt, Nicholas
Volunteer Coach: Bullock, Nick
Home# Away# Name Position Class Height Weight
2 2 Newkirk, Khaleem WR−DB Junior 5’7″ 127
3 3 Jimenez, Heisler WR/LB Senior 5’10” 185
4 4 Negron, Nicholas WR−DB Junior 5’8″ 145
5 5 Pyles, Mark QB/LB Senior 6’0″ 215
6 6 Eisenhour, Luke RB/LB Junior 5’11” 190
7 7 Kissinger, Cody R QB/DB Freshman 5’11” 160
8 8 Peiffer, Kyle WR−DB Junior 5’8″ 130
9 9 Rothgaber, Brandon WR−DB Junior 5’9″ 130
10 10 Baez, Xavier WR−DB Junior 5’11” 150
11 11 De la Cruz, Jeremy WR/DB Senior 5’9″ 180
12 12 Martin, Justin QB−DB Junior 5’9″ 125
14 14 Francois, Omel WR/DB Sophomore 5’11” 140
15 15 Rodriguez, Jeronimo WR−DB Junior 5’9″ 135
16 16 Seabrook, Demond WR−DB Junior 5’7″ 165
17 17 Cintron, Taj WR/DB Senior 5’9″ 165
19 19 Shaeffer, Tyler QB/DB Junior 5’9″ 150
21 21 Maldonado Hernandez, Alexander WR/DB Sophomore 5’7″ 130
22 22 Cross, Joshua WR/LB Sophomore 5’7″ 155
23 23 Caricabeur, Daniel RB/DB Sophomore 5’6″ 157
24 24 Peiffer, Erik WR−DB Junior 5’6″ 126
25 25 Navarro, Elijah WR−LB Junior 5’9″ 160
26 26 Rhoads, Joshua WR/DB Senior 5’10” 165
27 27 Hunter, Malik RB/LB Sophomore 5’9″ 153
28 28 Torres−Salinas, Jeffry WR/DB Junior 5’7″ 155
29 29 Lugo, Jaykwan QB/DL Sophomore 5’5″ 130
32 32 Fureman, Luke WR/DB Sophomore 5’7″ 140

33 33 Suarez Torres, Jan WR/DB Sophomore 5’4″ 130

34 34 Fabian Garcia, Guillen WR/DB Sophomore 5’5″ 125
36 36 Smoak, Gene WR/DB Junior 5’6″ 160
38 38 Meade, Jonathan Kicker Senior
44 44 Amon, Jacob Kicker Junior
45 45 Kutz, Benjamin RB/DL Sophomore 5’5″ 165
50 50 Rupponer, Joseph RL/LB Senior 5’9″ 195
51 51 McQueen, Dwayne OL−DL Junior 5’7″ 170
52 52 Fabian, Gian OL/LB Sophomore 5’11” 205
53 53 Blair, Tommy OL/DL Sophomore 5’7″ 145
54 54 Blair, Billy OL/LD Sophomore 5’7″ 150
55 55 Castrillon, Jacob OL/DL Senior 5’6″ 200
56 56 Dent, John OL/LB Junior 5’8″ 210
57 57 Jimenez, Marcus OL/DL Sophomore 5’5″ 160
59 59 Ramsey, Darius OL/DL Senior 5’10” 250
64 64 Cummins, Connor OL−DL Junior 6’1″ 255
65 65 Imm, Lucas OL−DL Sophomore 6’1″ 280
66 66 Garcia, Edgardo OL/DL Sophomore 5’5″ 160
77 77 Anazagazty Fernandez, Jose OL/DL Junior 5’10” 250
79 79 Tobias, Nathan OL/DL Junior 6’6″ 405
81 81 DeLeon Torres, Michael WR/DB Sophomore 6’1″
82 82 Feliciano, Eugenio WR/DB Junior 5’10” 150
88 88 Quiero, De’Andre WR/DB Junior 5’9″ 135








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