By Jake Adams:
Head coach: Tim Bigelow, 4th season (8-22)
Division: Mid-Penn Capital
2019 season: 3-7 (2-5)
Postseason: did not qualify
Passing: Comp-Att, Yards, TD
Daniel Shuster: 161-302, 2,077, 17
Rushing: Att-Yards, Avg, TD
Peter Chelap: 51-143, 2.8, 3
Christian Doi: 35-136, 3.9, 2
Receiving: Rec-Yards, Avg, TD
Peter Chelap: 16-217, 13.6, 1
Elijah DeArment: 12-158, 13.1, 1
Key returners: Daniel Shuster, sr., QB-DB; Ben Mullin, sr., OL-LB; Patrick Becker, jr., DB; Max Delaye, sr. FB/OL-LB; Peter Chelap, sr., WR-DB; Grant Bayesa, sr., FB/OL-LB; Elijah DeArment, sr., WR-LB; Paul Parise, sr., OL-DL; Patrick Becker, sr., WR-DB; Eric Dick, jr., OL-DL; Christian Doi, jr., RB-DB.
Outlook: Smaller, faster, smarter, better. That’s the hope, at least, at Siebert Park. The Lions enter 2020 small, agile, versatile and more comfortable with their identity under fourth-year coach Tim Bigelow. They have a veteran QB, Daniel Shuster, a deep offensive line with positional versatility (including fullback) and speed to spare at several positions. “Our team speed is one of the best we’ve had in a very long time,” Bigelow said.
Can that mix lead to more wins in the Capital? Well, Middletown is still the division’s juggernaut and will be tough to upset. And the arrival of Big Spring, and Liberty Division crossover matchups against Line Mountain and Upper Dauphin, present new challenges.
3 Things to Know:
1. A boon for the little guys: Bigelow has a rather counterintuitive stance on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted his football team, which has between 27-29 rostered players — it’s been a “benefit.” On the surface, that doesn’t seem possible when the Lions lost precious time in the weight room and didn’t have the same on-field workout time to put new pieces together, like everyone else. But look a little deeper. Camp Hill and its small-school brethren don’t have the same social-distancing challenges during workouts. They need fewer pods in the weight room, and on the field they aren’t as spread out as schools like Cumberland Valley. “It’s actually kind of helped us, so we can actually be together, socially distanced, all at the same time,” Bigelow said. “I think the smaller schools have actually benefited for the first time ever in the history of the world.”
2. A wrestler’s world: Wrestling and football are deeply intertwined sports, regardless of school size. But Bigelow has a soft spot for his grapplers, who make up a disproportionate part of his roster. “I really do love wrestlers, they’re some of my favorite football players,” he said. There’s Max Delaye, the reigning District 3 Class 2A 160-pound champ, a senior fullback/lineman and linebacker. There’s Christian Doi, who claimed silver at districts in February in a banner year for Lions wrestling, a scat-back type that is expected to improve on his 136 rushing yards. There’s Paul Parise and Ben Mullin, district medalists on a wrestling team that finished fifth, who will have key roles on the offensive line and defensive front. All are filling important spots on a roster that needs to be fast, agile, and in some of their cases, must fill a gaping hole left by departed RB/LB Frank Shartle II. “The one common denominator is they’re all really good wrestlers,” Bigelow said.
3. Shuster, QB and coordinator: The Shuster name carries weight in Camp Hill Country. Daniel, the younger brother of Michael, a walk-on at Penn State who led the Lions to multiple District 3 crowns, enters his senior year after a productive junior campaign in which he tossed for 17 scores and 2,077 yards. He also threw 14 picks and completed 53.3% of his passes. He’s being pushed by some young backups the Lions are high on in the future, but it’s Shuster’s job to lose. He has an improved arm that, Bigelow said, allows him to hit deep corner routes from the pocket more consistently now. Bigelow also likes to have a QB who is an extension of the coaching staff, which Shuster is. “With Daniel, it’s he’s just got command of the offense,” the coach said. “My quarterbacks I want to be an extension of myself.”