WVHS Gridders Face Growing Pains
Despite suffering heavy graduation losses from a team that went 8-3, including a District Four playoff berth, Wyalusing Valley head coach Jim Huffman is optimistic about the upcoming football season.
“There are a lot of questions in the NTL Small School division,” Huffman observed. “I think we can be in the race.”
After a disappointing final scrimmage against Susquehanna at Peterson Stadium on Friday, Aug. 26, Huffman hopes his inexperienced team learned a lesson.
“We have to improve every week,” he said in the aftermath of the pre-season tilt in which the visiting Sabers scored five touchdowns while shutting out the Rams.
“They need game experience,” he said.
The Rams’ next step in the learning process begins with the regular season opener at Athens on Friday, Sept. 1.
Senior running back Dan Frankenfield, who ran for 553 yards last season en route to an All-NTL Small School first-team berth, led the Rams during two scrimmages. He had 23 yards on nine carries against Susquehanna.
Joining him in the backfield will be senior fullback Tyler Thompson and slotback Joey Champluvier.
Junior Andrew Pickett will start at quarterback.
A veteran offensive line, led by senior lettermen Anthony Benninger, Tracey LaFrance and Clayton Force, should open holes for the backs.
LaFrance and Force will play tackle. Benninger and fellow senior Jon Shoemaker will be the guards flanking junior center Zane Vaskas.
Seniors Aaron Johnson and Chris McDonald will alternate at wide receiver. Jeremy Allyn, a junior, will play tight end.
Defensively, Benninger and Frankenfield are returning All-NTL first-teamers at tackle and outside linebacker, respectively.
Frankenfield had 65 tackles and 16 assists last season to go with three interceptions, a fumble recovery and a sack. Benninger had 63 tackles, nine assists, one fumble recovery and three sacks.
Joining Benninger on the line will be LaFrance at tackle and Force and senior Ryan Hart at defensive ends.
Allyn, Thompson and freshman Dylan Otis join Frankenfield in the linebacking corps.
McDonald, Johnson, Champluvier and senior Kye Novak will see action in the secondary.
Tyler Fenton, a junior, returns as punter.
The placekicking duties will fall to either Otis or senior Jordan Anderson. According to Huffman, Anderson will handle the kickoffs.
Looking ahead, Huffman believes Athens will “be a good opening game.”
“They are big, have good wide receivers and a quick running back.”
Wyalusing enters the tilt with a two-game winning streak over the Wildcats, who play in the league’s Large School division.
Joining Huffman on the coaching staff are long-time defensive coordinator Dave Behrend and offensive coordinator Frank Kinney. Brent Trowbridge and Frank Thompson are the junior varsity coaches. A.J. McKennas is also on the staff.
Seniors: Jordan Anderson, Anthony Benninger, Joey Champluvier, Clayton Force, Dan Frankenfield, Ryan Hart, Aaron Johnson, Tracey LaFrance, Chris McDonald, Kye Novak, Jon Shoemaker and Tyler Thompson.
Juniors: Tim Ace, Jeremy Allyn, Brandon Otis, Dan Edsell, Tyler Fenton, Paul Fusco, Caleb Johnson, Chad Johnson, Brandon Kelley, Matt Kipp, Zac Owens, Andrew Pickett, Zane Vaskas and Chris Walters.
Sophomores: Taylor Armitage, Ryan Davis, Mitchel Epler, Anthony Gowin, Tim Kelley, Dalton Manning, Jake Minturn and Austin Shaffer.
Freshmen: Ethan Ace, Dustin Brown, Dalton Curran, Justin Haley, Devin Masters, Terron Millard, Nevin Nolte, Dylan Otis, Dylan Sample, Josh Shoemaker and Dustin Voda.