Michael Henwood is leading by example in Hermitage
HERMITAGE, Pennsylvania (WKBN) – For the first time in 11 years, the Hornets are reeling from back-to-back losing seasons. The former six consecutive time District 10 champion (2011-16) went from an offense which averaged 347.3 yards per game in 2016 to a unit which has dropped to 277.5 in 2017 to just 197 total yards last season. Last season, the Hornets held 5 of their 9 opponents to 27-points or less – while two others scored 28. The offense, however, was able to generate 24 points or more just twice (vs. Sharon, 24; vs. Greenville, 35).
This year, the Hornets will give it a go without one of the top coaches in the area in Bill Brest. In mid-December, Brest stepped down after leading the Hornets to an 83-28 record over the past nine seasons. In late-February, Hickory hired a well-respected assistant (at Sharon and Farrell) in Bill Dungee.
“These past few months have been a bit a whirlwind,” says Dungee. “From meeting the players and putting together a coaching staff, to establishing relationships with the administration, boosters, parents and members of the Hickory School District community, on top of instilling in our young men the culture we want for Hickory Football, I’ve been very busy. Our players are hungry. We’ve had great turnouts for winter and spring lifting and workouts even with our basketball team making a deep run in the tournament. Half of our team was involved in track & field and baseball. I couldn’t be more pleased with the players hard work and commitment to getting better this offseason.”
Head Coach: Bill Dungee, 1st season
2018 record (Region 5): 2-7 (0-4), 5th place
Five Key Points
experienced their first back-to-back losing seasons since Frank Antuono’s
bunch went 2-8 (2007) and 3-6 (2008) in his first two seasons
2.The ground game has gained 2,516 yards in their last 20 games. In 2016, Chuck Carr ran for 2,280 yards (12 games).
3.Hickory is 1-15 in their last 16 games where they scored 24-points or less
4.The Hornets have lost each of their last 14 games when they allowed 24-points or more
5.Odd year 1K passer. Dating back to 2010 – each even year, Hickory’s QB has thrown for less than 1,000 yards. Each odd year, they’ve had a passer who’s thrown for over 1,000 stripes
Returning Starters: 7
Scoring Offense: 15.1 (T-42nd in Area)
Rushing Offense: 92.1
Passing Offense: 104.9
Total Offense: 197.0
…The rushing offense has averaged under 125-yards per game in each of the last two seasons (2017: 124.1; 2018: 92.1). In 2018 just like the year prior, not a single Hornet gained more than 301 yards for the season. An incredible stat after seeing the likes of Chuck Carr, DeShawn Coleman, and Marlon Pegues have so much success in recent memory on the ground.
Junior quarterback Michael Henwood led the Hornets last fall with 197 yards on 56 carries (3.5 avg). Henwood threw for 592 yards while completing 45.8% (44-96) and tossing 5 touchdowns. “(Michael) has a high football IQ and he’s very athletic,” points out coach Dungee. “His leadership and commitment is what I love about him. For example, he’s a track star specializing in the 100 and 200-meter dash and also our 4×100 relay teams. Yet, after track practice he’s at every football lifting session and team workouts. He’s working tirelessly to improve his footwork and accuracy on top of learning an entirely new offense. I expect great things from him.”
Kam Fisher (193 yards) and Hunter Stoots (117 yards) each rushed for over 100-yards a year ago. Stoots caught the 4th most passes on the team with 6 (for 66 yards). Nathan Richards hauled in 2 more passes than Stoots (with 8) and 3 more yards (69 yards). Hickory graduated the likes of Michael Filardi (27 catches, 439 yards) – who has caught 47 passes over the last 2 years – and Hayden Gallagher (thrown for 2430 yards over his prep career).
Dungee knows where his unit needs to develop. “Our offensive is the key point blank. If we can establish a cohesive group of physical young men who can play smart – we have the potential to be a very explosive offense. I like the skill sets of our skill players and the leadership and athleticism of our quarterback.”
Returning Starters: 6
Scoring Defense: 26.4 (36th in Area)
…The defense forced just 10 turnovers (1 INT/9 Fum Rec) in 9 outings a year ago. The unit must replace their leading tackler in linebacker Kuldera Delgros (128), three pieces in the secondary (Kyle McDonough, Asher Patton & Michael Filardi) and a major contributor along the line (Skyler Collins).
“(This fall), we plan on simplifying our defensive scheme so that our players can play fast, physical and aggressive,” indicates Dungee. “We must also be fundamentally sound in our techniques and tackling. I believe if we do this we can force teams into being one-dimensional and force some turnovers.”
Hickory returns linemen Rocco Iacino (72 tackles, 5 sacks) and Dalton Beatty (63 tackles, 3 sacks) as well as Hunter Stoots (70 tackles), Michael Henwood (45 tackles) and Braelyn Stewart (38 tackles) on the back end. Also, pass rusher Jackson Pryts is back as a sophomore after compiling 25 defensive stops as a freshman.
However, the team must find a replacement for their standout kicker/punter Sam Scarton – booted a 52-yard field goal (7 of 11 FG) and averaged 35.3 yards per punt (11 Inside the 20) – which can be difficult.
Aug. 23 – at Sharpsville
Aug. 30 – Sharon
Sept. 6 – Mercyhurst Prep
Sept. 13 – at Conneaut
Sept. 20 – at Greenville
Sept. 27 – Grove City
Oct. 4 – at Westinghouse
Oct. 11 – Slippery Rock
Oct. 18 – Wilmington