WEST MIDDLESEX, Pennsylvania (WKBN) – In 2019, West Middlesex completed their 16th winning season in the past 22 years. In the previous 37 years of Big Reds football – they were able to accomplish that feat 7 times.
Coach Mark Means has developed a new culture in two years at the helm of the program. “Without spring practices this obviously has slowed down the process of finding the right pieces needed to play at a high level,” Means says. “We were able to reach out primarily through email while also utilizing Zoom (meetings) twice a week for our players. We gave them assignments, share playbooks and videos in Google classrooms.”
2019 Record: 7-4 (1-2), 3rd place in Region 1
Head Coach: Mark Means, 3rd season (16-7)
Scoring Offense: 24.8 (28th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 14.9 (9th in Area)
Total Offense: 267.4
Rushing Offense: 214.7
Passing Offense: 52.7
What you need to know about West Middlesex’s offense.
-The Big Reds’ offense has been motoring on the ground game in coach Means’ two seasons. In 2018, the rushing attack averaged 207.1 yards per game. Last year, they increased that total to 214.7 yards per contest. Zeb Rubaker (831 yards) and Jason Davis (654 yards) both gained over 600-yards on the ground – running behind a line which had standouts such as Chase Tomko, Noah Weiser and Josh Bender. Now, all of the aforementioned players have graduated. “The key to our offense will be based on how well the new line can work together,” states Means. “The departure of our three linemen left some big holes up front. We’ve had a limited off-season and no spring practices to develop the line due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This is very challenging but we’re optimistic.”
Who’s ready to take over the reigns at the Big Reds’ top ball carrier? Junior running back Ian Smith ran the ball 86 times a year ago, churning out 317 yards and scoring 3 times on the ground. Senior Alex Rea also was able to carry the ball 38 times for 257 yards (6.8 avg) while scoring 3 touchdowns. Also, the staff has been high on Colby Johnson, Connor Haddon and Eddie Lowe to give the team a solid production by committee at running back. Senior QB Ty Tate threw for 378 yards a year ago and connected on 7 touchdowns. Tate also gained 196 yards rushing (2 TDs) as well. His favorite target Eddie Lowe is back in the fold after hauling in 11 passes for 190 yards (3 TDs).
The offense has not averaged 300-yards or more during a season since 2014 (373.6 ypg).
What you need to know about West Middlesex’s defense
-West Middlesex must replace 7 of their top 9 tacklers from a season ago which includes First-Team All-Region selections Chase Tomko (95 tackles, 2 FR) and Zeb Rubaker (6 QB Sacks) as well as linebacker George Troyer (53 tackles). Although, the Big Reds will have linebacker Ian Smith (74 tackles, 5 QB sacks) and defensive backs Alex Rea (74 tackles, 2 INTs), Ty Tate and Eddie Lowe in the mix this fall.
“Our biggest challenge this year is finding the right players to plug into the linebacker spots as well as the defensive line,” indicates Means. “We’re confident Ian (Smith) can step up and possibly slide over to the MIKE position but we’ll need to find two or three more linebackers. Our real strength is in the secondary. We feel that most of our underclassmen understand the amount of work, dedication and discipline it takes to be a good defensive player.”
Since coach Means took over, the defense has seen a resurgence in the number which matters – points allowed. In 2017, West Middlesex was shredded for an average of 35-points per game (34.8). Two years ago, they dropped that figure to 16.2 points per contest. Just last year, even more of a decrease, to 14.9 points.
West Middlesex’s Key Player(s)
-Much attention will be placed on how the offensive line develops after losing a trio of All-Region selections. Kaleb Turcotte and Nick Kobielus will be asked to anchor the front line this season.
Aug. 28 – Sharpsville
Sept. 4 – at Wilmington
Sept. 11 – Kennedy Catholic
Sept. 18 – at Mercer
Sept. 25 – Reynolds
Oct. 2 – Farrell
Oct. 9 – at Union City
Oct. 16 – at Greenville
Oct. 23 – at Lakeview
Oct. 30 – Eisenhower
The Big game on the schedule
October 2 – Farrell (Home)
…West Middlesex has been eliminated by Farrell in each of the last four playoff runs. They’ll get the Steelers at home on the first Friday of October.
Since 2006, Big Reds’ ball carriers to score double-digit rushing TDs
2019 – Zeb Rubaker, 10
2018 – Clayton Parrish, 24
2014 – Eric Lucich, 28
2014 – Trey Staunch, 17
2013 – Eric Lucich, 17
2012 – Luke Patten, 19
2011 – Clay Allen, 11
2011 – Colin Patten, 10
2008 – Kyle Allen, 21
2006 – Kolten Hoffman, 23
2006 – Steve Anrusky, 13