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Thursday, December 29, 2022

2020 Preview: Waynesboro Indians

By Andy Sandrik: 

Coach: Josh Sprenkle

Classification: 5A

League/division: Mid-Penn Colonial

2019 record: 5-6, 4-2 in Colonial

Postseason: Lost to Manheim Central in the first round of the District 3-5A playoffs


Passing: Comp-Att., Yards, TD

Chance Eyler: 21-54., 274, 3

Rushing: Att.,-Yards, Avg., TD

Aidan Mencia: 158-1,039, 6.6, 13

Mikel Holden: 148-773, 5.2, 4

Receiving: Rec.-Yards., Avg., TD

Kareem Sims: 6-85, 14.2, 0

Mikel Holden: 8-82, 10.3, 2

Key Players: Aidan Mencia, Jr., HB-SS; Mikel Holden, So., FB; Chance Eyler, Sr., QB; Gunner Lesher, Sr., OL; Brandon Truillo, Sr., OL-DL; Callin Kauffman, Jr., LB; Brody Rhodes, Jr., DB-WR; Rhyan Day, Jr., CB-WR; Isaiah Reed, Sr., DE; Jesse Julius, Jr., LB-RB


OUTLOOK: Win, lose, or draw, it’s hard not to play against Waynesboro without returning home bruised and bloody. The Indians aren’t built to light up the scoreboard. Instead they set out with the goal of doing damage and breaking opponents until the want-to disappears from the opposition in the fourth quarter. This is the exact mentality needed to withstand a season in the beefed-up Colonial Division, which prides itself on hard-nosed football. We don’t see Waynesboro winning the division outright, but if Colonial giants Shippensburg, Susquehanna Township and Mechanicsburg beat up on each other as expected, a two-loss Indians squad could find itself celebrating a share of the title.

1. Thunder & Thunder: It wouldn’t be accurate to call junior Aiden Mencia and sophomore Mikel Holden “complementary” backs because they both do exactly the same thing — punch opposing defenses right in the mouth.
The backs combined for more than 2,000 yards last season, and Sprenkle said both backs are clearly ready for more bone-shattering downhill running. Menci gained 15 pounds in the offseason and should be even more of a wrecking ball this fall.

“We had an intrersquad scrimmage on Saturday and there’s certain kids where you’re not sure how they’ll do,” Sprenkle said. “But with these two, you exactly what you’ll get: Going hard every single play.” With a less experienced offensive line, Waynesboro will need its straight-ahead runners to dig a little bit deeper to earn their yards until the boys up front — including three sophomore linemen — can work out the kinks.

With Mencia and Holden providing the thunder, Waynesboro will be seeking for someone else to provide that lighting. Junior Louie Lindsay, a transfer from Smithsburg (Maryland), entered training camp as a QB prospect but could very well be the RB that runs past the defenses bracing for the big hits from Mencia/Holden. “He does well running the football, even if not at QB,” Sprenkle said. “We’re not running a two-QB system, but Lindsay will definitely be involved with the offense in some sort.”

 2. High-ceiling prospects: Coach Sprenkle has a knack for recruiting players from outside the football program, and putting them in positions to be playmakers for the Indians on the gridiron. Senior Daniel Norona, a first-year player from Waynesboro’s basketball team, has worked his way into the starting lineup as the Indians’ No. 2 receiver. Standing at 6-foot-1, Norona has already proven he can snag rebounds, now we will see if he can also pull down fade passes from the corner of the end zone.

“We wish he would have played football all through high school, but we’re happy to have him here now,” Sprenkle said. “He’s a fast, natural route runner who is showing flashes of really good football talent.

He’s been able to make plays even after getting hit, so he’s showing us toughness. He’s not scared to run anywhere on the field.” On the defensive side of the ball, Sprenkle noted junior OLB Jesse Julius, mostly a special teams player last season, has earned a “seat at the table” for the starting defensive unit.

 “Julius put on 30 pounds of muscle, mostly in his legs, he’s definitely a prospect,” Sprenkle said. “He’s also Mikel Holden’s backup at fullback. If Holden wasn’t Holden, Julius would be our starting fullback.”

3. Student vs. teacher: If Sprenkle had to name one “best friend” from the opposing ranks of the Colonial Division, chances are he’d immediately mention Shippensburg head coach Eric Foust.
The coaches text constantly, share film and intel, and even went golfing a few weeks ago. All of this camaraderie, of course, should come as no surprise considering Sprenkle spent seven years on Foust’s staff, including a stint as the Greyhounds’ defensive coordinator.

“My experience at Shippensburg meant a lot,” Sprenkle said. “I learned a lot from Eric and his dad, and from being with my high school coach Kevin Gustafson. The Ship coaching staff operates cohesively because the staff has remained intact. The guys show up and do their jobs, while you do yours. That’s what I’m trying to build at Waynesboro.”

There will likely be an awkward moment when Sprenkle and Foust come face-to-face at Waynesboro’s Rip Engle Sports Complex when their teams kick off the season Sept. 25. Shippensburg is the preseason favorite to win the Colonial Division, but Waynesboro still likes its chances to bounce back from last year’s 28-7 loss to the Greyhounds.

“That game was early in the season with a younger team,” Sprenkle said. “Mencia fumbled twice, and both fumbles were returned for touchdowns. He’ll be looking to redeem himself, and the other kids will definitely be looking to prove something in Week 1. … This is the only day of the year where I won’t talk with Eric. We will probably just shake hands and go about our business.”

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