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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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2020 Preview: Lower Dauphin Falcons

By Adam Kulikowski:

Coach: Rob Klock

Classification: 5A

Division: Mid-Penn Keystone

2019 season: 0-10 (0-6 Keystone)

Postseason: did not qualify

Key returners: Braden Landis, jr., QB; Matt Piermattei, sr., WR; Ameer Hunter, sr., OL: Luis Armenta, sr., OL-DL; Adam Bonawitz, sr., QB; Ethan Miller, jr., RB-LB; Ryan Angerer, jr., TE-DE.

Outlook: Rebuilds are never easy. Lower Dauphin knows that after suffering through an 0-10 season in 2019. But there’s reason to be hopeful in an abbreviated 2020 season. Jacob Kauffman, a burner with 4.4 speed will provide plenty of zip on jet sweeps while Braden Landis and a handful of others provide the Falcons with some added athleticism. This isn’t a team that will contend for a District championship — not yet — but LD certainly will take steps forward in 2020. “Our kids are realistic,” Klock said. “They know that this is a process and that it isn’t going to change overnight. Last year, unfortunately with our numbers, we just didn’t have the size or speed that we typically do. This year, we feel a lot more confident. Numbers alone are much better and then we just do seem to be more athletic. We know we aren’t there yet, but we are moving in the right direction. We learned a lot from last year. No one likes going 0-10. It’s a good motivator. We don’t want to repeat that. The future looks much brighter.”

3 Things to Know:

  1. In the classroom: Lower Dauphin’s squad capitalized on the pause COVID-19 caused across the commonwealth. Without the added pressure of weight room sessions and on-field practices, the Falcons invested in a ton of “classroom” time via Zoom. Teaching schemes and reads, the Falcons closed the knowledge gap that seemed evident at times during last year’s campaign. “This time has really been very productive for us,” Klock said. “I’m actually pleased with what we have gotten done. When we did the Zoom calls this year, I was very simplistic. We really explained things — and we are still doing that — we simplified our whole system so the kids that haven’t had a ton of football exposure, they are much further along and understand what we are trying to accomplish schematically and just philosophically.”
  2. Different looks under center:  Expect the Falcons to vary the looks they show opponents under center. While Braden Landis remains No. 1 on the QB depth chart, the Falcons plan to showcase several weapons under center in 2020. Adam Bonawitz, a senior with a strong arm, Ellis Snow, a sophomore, and Charlie Fortney all might get looks as Klock works to get his best athletes on the field in a number of positions. “We’re going to have some set where Braden either rotates out or he jumps to a receiver position,” Klock said. “All of our quarterbacks this year have a skill set where they can do other things. Adam learned tight end and h-back. These are some of our best athletes, so to not be on the field is kind of silly. For them to be on the sidelines standing next to me just because they happen to play that position. We’ve got in the preseason here with the notion that these guys may line up at three or four different positions in a game.”
  3. Working the hash marks: Lower Dauphin’s typical smash-mouth, power football brand under Klock’s tenure will look different this year. With more speed at his disposal and less up-the-middle bulls on the roster, more jet sweep-type plays will find their way into the huddle, taking advantage of 4.4-burner Jacob Kauffman. “I think you are going to see us as a more perimeter team this year,” Klock said. “We’re going to do some of the zone read, some of the counter of the jet look with our talented quarterbacks. We’ve had to tailor to our strength because we can’t line up like we did several years ago and punch the ball down the field because we don’t have those types of kids right now.”

Bonus note: When a pandemic brings you seclusion — and withholds haircuts — what do you do? Make it a contest. That’s how the Falcons added a moment of levity to the spring months before anyone in the commonwealth was able to get haircuts. While the Falcons were holding regular Zoom chats, teammates noticed each other’s wildly growing hair. So, who sported the best “COVID locks” on the Falcons? Aidyn Gingrich. Hands down. “His hair was crazy,” Klock said. “He had an awesome do — really fluffy red hair. It really grew out. It was excellent.”

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