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IMG_5566BY JEFF FALK

ANNVILLE – There sure is a lot to like about the Annville-Cleona football team this season. So what’s your favorite aspect of it?

A. The Little Dutchmen’s 21 12th-graders.

B. The promise of junior quarterback Noah Myers.

C. Annville-Cleona’s plethora of talented skill people.

D. A-C’s fly-to-the-ball defense.

IMG_5611E. Head coach Matt Gingrich’s ‘Get better everyday’ approach.

Hmmm. Do I have to pick just one?

Not unlike most squads at this point of the preseason, the Little Dutchmen have a lot to look forward to in fall of 2016. What’ll be fun and intriguing is watching which or how many of those strengths play out, and what others emerge.

“For me, there’s no numbers this year,” said Gingrich, the Little Dutchmen’s second-year boss, about projected wins and losses. “I want to see us get better every single day. I don’t think we achieved that last year. When you see us August 26 (in their season opener against Trinity) and see us at the end of the season, I want us to be two totally different teams. But we have a chance to have a really successful season.

IMG_5621“These kids are great,” continued Gingrich. “You want to talk about fun? These kids make me happy. I don’t expect to deal with issues, unless they’re issues you expect to deal with. The kids that have come out, they’re awesome to work with. They’re not perfect, but they’re getting better. It’ll be a different year.”

Different in a good way. This goal of getting better everyday, isn’t that all you can ask of kids? And if Gingrich and Co. can actually achieve that lofty aspiration, there’s a lot of other stuff that will take care of itself.

“We have a lot of athletes,” said Gingrich. “Last year, we had one or two options to throw to. This year we have about eight. These kids have been here all the time. Noah (Myers) has a lot more opportunities, just with what we’ve got going on, on the outside.



“I’d say a weakness is just the knowledge of these kids,” added Gingrich. “They’ve got to figure out where to line up. But I really like our defense. I think a strength will be our defense.”

IMG_5597The Little Dutchmen are coming off a 6-5 campaign – 2-4 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League – one in which they qualified for the District Three playoffs. And although Annville-Cleona returns only four starters from each side of the ball, Gingrich welcomed 21 seniors out for the team – some of whom have never played, or haven’t played in quite some time.

Participation remains a point of emphasis at Lebanon County’s smallest public school.

“That team was a couple points away from being 9-2,” recalled Gingrich. “But this is a whole different group. It’s a new canvas. You’re not adding to it. The big thing I took away from last year was that there were some exceptions I made. I learned a lot about about how to treat individuals in a team sport. I’ve never cared about our record. We want to get better throughout the year, and we didn’t do that last year.

IMG_5609“I think some of it is that (getting accustomed to the new position),” Gingrich continued. “The issues I had last year, I grew up with a different set of expectations. I took for granted how some of these kids would act and work. This year I will spell out everything. ‘This is acceptable.’ ‘This is not acceptable’. ‘You will not take a play off.'”

The Little Dutchmen are Myers’ team now. The 6-3 225-pound quarterback possesses a big-time skill set, and much will be asked of him, including leadership.

He will be supported directly by the running of senior Cameron Hoch, senior Dylan Bomgardner or sophomore Gavin Stoudt. If, or when, Annville-Cleona opens it up, Myers will be looking for senior receiver Mitch Long, senior receiver Cameron Chappel, senior receiver Matt Erickson and senior receiver Griffin Hertz.

“We really wanted Noah to take that starting spot last year,” said Gingrich. “He just never did. It was there, he just didn’t take it. But I was very lucky that Noah came out for track and field and threw with me. I thought he really matured over that time. Starting from camp, he’s been in it. There’s been a clear separation since March, He’s really grown up. He could be a three-sport captain next year. He has his future ahead of him.

“I think every year we’re looking at different things,” Gingrich added. “Right now, we have 21 seniors, but honestly I think ten of them played last year. We might have 500 yards of offense coming back. The expectations of summer camp are completely different. We’re very happy with the kids we got out, but there’s about four or five seniors who didn’t come out.”

IMG_5589But ultimately, Annville-Cleona might go as far as the big guys up front takes it. Senior Brandon Uhrich, senior Kole Stout, senior Brayden Turner, senior Drew Speraw, senior Sam Mintz and senior Isaac Burris will pave the way for the Little Dutchmen’s success.

Defensively, the Little Dutchmen will also rely on athleticism, as well as many of the same faces. But with 40 warm bodies on the roster, Annville-Cleona has the resources to inject fresh legs when needed.

“One of the things we’re emphasizing is going from selfishness to selflessness,” Gingrich said. “If you do that, the greater good will be done. If everyone pulls their part, we’re going to get through it well. You verbally have to communicate those things.

“The biggest concern is what’s going to happen when the bullets are flying,” continued Gingrich. “It’s game experience. I don’t know. Last year I knew what I was going to get, good or bad. We’ll find out.”

IMG_5590Under the PIAA’s new classification system, Annville-Cleona has gone from being one of the smallest AA programs in District Three to being one of the smallest AAA programs in the region. In a rare occurrence, the Little Dutchmen will open their season a week earlier than many – on the so-called ‘Week Zero’ – August 26th when they host Trinity.

“The issue I have is with the number of teams that make districts,” said Gingrich. “Twenty-five percent of the teams make districts. Four of the 16 make it. Could we make it? Yes. We’ll get more of an idea as the year goes on. But we’re primarily playing the same teams.

“I never played for playoffs,” Gingrich continued. “We have ten awesome games. You want playoffs? We’re getting it every single week.”

 

 

IMG_5574To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-11/.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_55802016 Annville-Cleona Football Schedule

 

DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
08/26
Trinity
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/02
Biglerville
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/09
@Camp Hill
7:00 PM Camp Hill High School
09/16
@Hanover
7:00 PM Hanover High School
09/23 *
@Elco
7:00 PM Elco High School
09/30 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/07 *
@Columbia
7:00 PM Columbia High School
10/14 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/28 *
@Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Pequea Valley High School
11/04 *
Donegal
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School

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IMG_55982015 Annville-Cleona Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
09/04
@Biglerville
7:00 PM W 39-36
09/11
Hamburg
7:00 PM W 30-14
09/18
Schuylkill Valley
7:00 PM W 28-16
09/25 *
@Donegal
7:00 PM L 13-39
10/01 *
Elco
6:30 PM L 39-40
10/10 *
@Ephrata
1:00 PM W 35-21
10/16
@Kutztown
7:00 PM W 33-8
10/23 *
@Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM L 36-58
10/30 *
Columbia
7:00 PM W 35-8
11/06 *
Pequea Valley
7:00 PM L 10-21
11/13 #
@Berks Catholic
7:00 PM L 14-61

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