By Adam Kulikowski:
Head coach: Frank Gay, 17th season overall (92-83), 11th season at Red Land (50-58)
Division: Mid-Penn Keystone
2019 season: 4-6 (2-4)
Postseason: did not qualify
Passing: Comp-Att.,Yards, TD
Rushing: Att-Yards, Avg, TD
Dylan Rodenhaber: 35-140, 4.0, 1
Receiving: Rec-Yards, Avg, TD
Chase Lawler: 34-378, 11.1, 3
Hayden Zechman: 16-228, 14.3, 2
Key returners: Dylan Rodenhaber, sr., RB-LB; Chase Lawler, sr., WR-DB; Hayden Zechman, sr., WR-OLB; Robert Rodgers, sr., RB-LB; Adrien Ortiz, sr., RB-DB; Cole Archambeault, sr., OL-DL; Kaden Peifer, jr., TE-LB; Nate Smith, jr., OL-DE; Sam Sklar, jr., WR-DB; Brady Lydon, jr., OL-DL; Gavin Feliciano, jr., K-P.
Outlook: The Patriots’ stock continues to rise as Frank Gay and his crew work to rebuild the them into a contender in the Keystone Division. While a postseason berth appears to be out of reach in a year where District 3 will punch only four tickets in the 5A class, a winning record is not — and that would be another step forward for the Lewisberry bunch.
3. Things to Know:
1. QB 1: Frank Gay named junior Landon Henline the starting quarterback Monday morning, just days before the Patriots are scheduled to face off against Hershey. It took a pair of scrimmages and an intense battle during an abbreviated offseason for the 6-foot-3 Henline to earn the nod over freshman Roman Jensen. “We wanted to see: could they command an offense?” Gay said of the pair before the veteran coach gave the starting nod to Henline. “Could they handle pressure? Could they be efficient? Our quarterbacks are going to be game managers, they are not going to be guys we have to rely on to win games. They are both brilliant kids in the classroom and on the field. Roman is a freshman coming up. He hasn’t seen a lot of big kids flying at him. It is just different. Landon, he played JV for us and did well, but then he broke his leg.”
2. Ready to run: You could hear the excitement in the voice of Gay when he spoke about the potential he saw in running back Dylan Rodenhaber. The senior — an established force on defense as a linebacker who was a leading tackler as a junior — prototypes as a bruising back who can grind out the tough yards in between the tackles. But looks can be deceiving. “He’s 215 pounds,” Gay said. “He can run hard inside, but he has some wiggle that you wouldn’t expect. He showed that against Big Spring in a couple runs. You are going to pay for it if you try to bring him down.” While Rodenhaber won’t be the starting quarterback when the Patriots roll into Hershey High School on Friday, don’t be surprised if he takes a few snaps as the 2020 season unfolds.
3. Promising front line: Three new starters will open the season on the offensive line for the Patriots. The good news for that group? One of those vacant positions will be filled by a former starter who took a year off from the game. Center Cole Archambeault is back on the roster, joining Brady Lydon and Nate Smith — who Gay praised as one of the toughest kids he’s coached in his 31 years — as penciled-in starters. A pair of promising sophomores, Addison Janovich (6-2, 210) and Bryce Stevens (6-2, 265) are battling for the remaining open slots. “We have some really young, talented linemen who if I can get them on track, we’re going to be OK because we have good kids in the fold. We just need to nurture them and get them ready to play as fast as we can.”