By Adam Kulikowski:
Coach: Joe Headen
Division: Mid-Penn Colonial
2019 season: 7-4 (4-2 Keystone)
Postseason: Lost to Bishop McDevitt 21-7 in the District 3 Class 4A first round.
Stat leaders not available
Key Players: Owen Wiener, sr., HB-LB; Kylee Page, sr., OL-DL; Bilal Weidler, sr., RB-DB; Mikey Reese, sr., RB-LB; Jamaal Minifield, jr., OL-DL; Donald Leach, sr., QB
Outlook: The Indians enter the Colonial Division as immediate contenders to dethrone perennial powerhouse Shippensburg. While the Greyhounds should be considered the favorites, Joe Headen’s crew will have plenty to say about who stakes their flag at the top of the hill at the end of the regular season.
- Move to the Colonial: A new slate of opponents pepper the Indians’ slate as the team transitions from the Keystone Division to the Colonial. Headen and his crew won’t have to prepare for the spread offenses of Cedar Cliff and Bishop McDevitt — no, now they have new problems to scheme against including Northern’s punch-you-in-the-face running attack, and the famed Wing-T run by several Colonial clubs. “It will be interesting for us as coaches because we need to put in more work,” Headen said. “It is different coordinators and different offensive schemes. We spent a lot of time this summer just making sure we understood what we wanted to do so that once the season starts we could focus on what our opponents are doing.”
- Turning over the reins: Joe Headen turned the reins of the Indians’ offense over to senior quarterback Donald Leach. In an offseason in which on-the-field preparation was limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, Leach’s experience in the offense playing and learning behind three-year starter Rashaad Carlson should pay dividends. “Donald brings a lot of experience. Even though he didn’t get a ton of playing time, he’s been around for a while,” Headen said. “He doesn’t get shook, he doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve. He understands concepts. He isn’t going to ‘wow’ you by his physicality — he’s a long, skinny kid, and you’ll think he is lanky. But at the end of the day, he’ll manage the game and get the job done. “
- Endurance over strength: A four-month stretch where teams were not allowed to conduct offseason strength training resulted in less gains in the weight room, according to Headen. That forced the Indians to adjust their game plan as the team progressed through camp. “If you are not going to be as strong as you want to be, the one thing you can do is to make sure you are in shape,” Headen said. “We want to make sure that we’re able to endure the season. When you are fatigued, that’s when it seems that the injures take place.”