Coach Phillian returns 3 starters on each side of the ball
NEW WILMINGTON, Pennsylvania (WKBN) – For the second straight year, Wilmington fell in the State Championship game at Hersheypark Stadium to eastern Pennsylvania power-Southern Columbia. Many commented throughout (and after) the game of what an excellent game plan that first-year head coach Brandon Phillian and his staff came up with to keep the Tigers off the field in the first half. However, in the second half, Southern pulled away and scored 42-unanswered points to claim their 9th state title (49-14). What can’t be lost is the fact that Wilmington accomplished the feat of playing for the state championship in back-to-back years (with different coaches – 2017: Terry Verrelli; 2018: Brandon Phillian). The Greyhounds won 12-games in a row and claimed their second region crown in as many years.
Can coach Phillian find the right nucleus to get his team back to the state playoffs without many seniors who carried the ‘Hounds a year ago? He points out, “Throughout the winter and spring (the returnees) have demonstrated a great work ethic and showed a hunger to compete at a high level. I think we’ve created a culture which demands a high standard of excellence from our players. While the faces will be new, these same faces played key roles last season on special teams, as backups, and as scout team players. In playing these roles they witnessed first hand from last year’s seniors what it takes to be successful at the highest level. They’re very eager to take the lessons they’ve learned and keep the program’s momentum going while creating their own identity.”
Head Coach: Brandon Phillian, 2nd season (13-2)
2018 record (Region 4): 13-2 (3-0), 1st place
Five Key Points
1.Greyhounds have compiled a record of 39-5 within the last three years
2.Over the past 3 seasons, four different Wilmington ball carriers have rushed for over 1,000-yards (2018: Cam Marett, 1789; 2017: Jack Patton, 1229 & Bryson Verrelli, 1088; 2016: Spencer DeMedal, 1093).
3.Another interesting fact from rushing the football – Five Greyhound rushers averaged over 8-yards a carry who had 35 attempts or more.
4.Wilmington’s defense has held their opponents to an average of 17-points or less in 14 of the last 16 seasons.
5.Graduated Cam Marett intercepted 17 passes over the course of his final two years in New Wilmington
Returning Starters: 3
Scoring Offense: 44.7 (3rd in Area)
Rushing Offense: 346.1
Passing Offense: 99.0
Total Offense: 445.1
…From last year’s championship game – 8 of the 11 starters have graduated. That leaves behind center Weston Phanco, wide out Junior McConahy and running back Ethan Susen. McConahy caught 20 passes for an average of 21 yards per catch and 4 touchdowns. Junior Susen was electric as he not only finished 116-rushing yards shy of 1,000 (89 carries, 884 yards, 16 TDs) but also hauled in 16 receptions for 221 yards. The ‘Hounds also return one starter up front in Weston Phanco. The team graduated All-District players – Robert Pontius (1316 passing yards, 592 rushing yards) at quarterback, Cam Marett (1789 rushing yards, 21 TDs; 23 catches, 343 yards, 6 TDs) and Noah Hunt (530 rushing yards, 4 TDs) at running back, tight end Jacob Yohman (6 catches, 156 yards) and offensive linemen (Alex Ramirez, Colton Richards, Jordan Gray, Jimmy Reed). A tall order to say the least for the staff this summer. However, coach Phillian has been pleased with what he has returning at his skill positions. “We return starters at halfback and wide receiver. While we still need to fill some skilled positions we have guys returning who got a lot of experience last year and made significant contributions in big games. The key to the offense will be our ability to fill both guard and tackle positions. We need guys to step in and strive to understand the positions the way the four seniors did a year ago.”
Returning Starters: 3
Scoring Defense: 14.7 (10th in Area)
Total Defense: 173.5
…Cornerback Ethan Susen and linebacker Shane Cox both return to the mix but – just like on offense – Wilmington must replace a ton on defense (9 starters). Susen earned 2nd-Team All-District honors (34 tackles, INT) and Cox brought home 1st-Team honors for his play at linebacker (66 tackles, 16 for a loss, 3 QB sacks). Junior McConahy will also return to his starting defensive end spot. The defense lost Colton Richards (90 tackles, 24 for a loss, 5 QB sacks), Jimmy Reed (72 tackles, 26 for a loss, 7 sacks), Noah Hunt (58 tackles, 4 QB sacks), Jordan Gray (57 tackles, 26 for a loss, 6 sacks), Alex Ramirez (47 tackles, 6 sacks), Cam Marett (39 tackles, 7 INTs), Robert Pontius (3 INTs) and Jacob Yohman (3 QB sacks). The ‘Hounds do return a trio of juniors in Morgan Whiting – who had 40 tackles a year ago – as well as Caelan Bender (38 tackles) and Darren Miller (34 tackles). “The key defensively,” says coach Phillian is the need to “fill the eight spots vacated by our graduating seniors. How well our new starters are able to communicate and play with one another will determine how strong we are on defense. During camp, we’ll be looking for guys to compete for these spots. Every player will be given an opportunity and the best competitors will win these spots. Filling these spots with the best players will be the focus on defense heading into camp.”
Aug. 23 – Sharon
Aug. 30 – Farrell
Sept. 6 – at Northwestern
Sept. 13 – at Lakeview
Sept. 20 – Conneaut (OH)
Sept. 27 – Greenville
Oct. 4 – at Iroquois
Oct. 11 – Sharpsville
Oct. 18 – at Hickory