40 Teams in 40 Days – Day 26 – Bethlehem Catholic (11) – Big School Team # 8
Bethlehem Catholic’s junior quarterback Julian Spigner passed for 1,548 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. He rushed for 617 yards and two touchdowns. With all his weapons coming back look for Julian to have a big year for the Golden Hawks.
“He’s a tall kid, has good vision and a strong arm. He’s a dual threat quarterback who can run or pass. We can get him out on the perimeter with the run/pass option. He can make plays with his leg or arm. We’re looking forward to seeing him grow the next couple of years. As a sophomore last year, the game was very fast. He needed to learn how to slow it down and see things. Once he did that he had the ability to go through progression a lot better. Now, in his second year, he’s a returning guy with a lot of confidence and I think the game should slow down for him.”
The Golden Hawks return two running backs with a lot of talent. Mike McDaniel is the feature back that rushed for almost 900 yards and 23 touchdowns last year. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He had almost 300 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
“Michael is a real good down hill runner. He has a really good side step and jump step and moves well laterally, plus he gets back up field. He likes to make a cut and take off. He has good speed too and has broken off some big plays for us last year. His goal this year is to be a little more physical and break more tackles. We like to put him in the slot. He has good hands.”
Antwon Keenan is a 190-pound back that can run over or around you.
“Antwon will be in the slot when Michael is in the backfield and vice versa. This year you will see him more in the backfield than last year.”
Darius Aldridge is a junior and will see some time in the backfield.
“With Michael and Antwon playing both ways he will probably take some snaps.”
Sophomore Damian Diaz is a player to watch and may get some carries.
Last year at h-back was Will Ward. Look for Dante Lonardo and/or Nate Burk to play h-back this fall.
“This year we have Will doing a couple of other things. So, this year Dante Lonardo will be our H-Back along with Nate Burk. Both kids are big and strong. Both kids are capable of blocking and releasing to catch the ball.”
The offensive line has experience coming back with three players from last year’s team. Kyle Benbrook is a returning offensive guard and can also play tackle. Mike Italiani is the other guard returning.
“Kyle is a three-year starter on the line.”
Colby Faasuamalie is the returning tackle.
“Colby started the season but got hurt. But he did a good job and we’re glad he’s back.”
The center position is up for grabs. Anthony Davis, Brian Brader and Niko Camacho are the guys battling.
The other tackle spot is going to be Ryan Johnson.
“He was a starter for us last year on the defensive side.”
At wide receiver, Becca has one of the best receivers in Eastern Pennsylvania. Senior Freddie Simmons caught 38 passes for 703 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Look for him to be the go to guy for Julian this year.
“He has great speed and great body control when he has to go up for a ball. He’s very smooth and good at making people miss. He has soft hands. He’s one of our guys that can make big plays for every time he touches the ball. One of his best assets is making unbelievable catches. He’s a tremendous and confident athlete.”
The other receiver that will lineup on the opposite of Freddie is Elijah Fineran. He’s another tall target at 6-foot-4 for Julian to throw to.
“He’s a rising junior to watch. He’s a D-1 prospect right now and has been to a number of camps. He’s another kid that is a pretty special talent. He has the ability to jump, has good speed and is a big target. He has great hands. We have two big time receivers.”
These two guys will be the starters and they have a bunch of guys behind them competing for time. Joe Smith, Chance Neilley, Josh Heron and Andrew Nieves are the guys competing.
The Golden Hawks return two defensive linemen from last year’s team. Dante Lonardo started last year at defensive end.
“He’s a big strong kid who is long. He has long arms and really get’s at the quarterback Last year he got stronger each game. He used his lower and upper body well. He’s a high motor guy and is going to run all over the field and make plays for you. He’s very athletic for his size. His speed helps him get at the quarterback really well. He’s a good run stopper and pass rusher. He’s good at tracking people down.”
Ryan Johnson also returns as a defensive end.
“He was another big surprise for us last year. He did a really nice job. He’s a very active kid and he never stops his feet. He’s always moving toward the ball. He’s a physical presence out there. He really dedicated himself in the offseason.”
Mike Italiani is another guy that will rotate through at defensive end.
“He played defense for us last year, is a strong kid and runs well.”
They have two nose guards that have seen some time. They are Kyle Benbrook and Colby Faasuamalie.
“Both these guys have played a little bit.”
At linebacker they return Will Ward and Antwon Keenan.
“Our middle linebacker is Will Ward. He has great instincts and a great nose for the football. He’s a very active kid sideline to sideline. Antwon is more of the speed guy. He’s more of an edge player. He’s good at defending in space.”
There’s some competition at the third linebacker spot.
“There is some competition but the lead runner right now is Nate Burk. He did see some varsity time last year.”
Nate was the fourth linebacker last year. Another kid to keep an eye on is Brandon Blode. He will compete to get in along with Will Schroeder.
In the secondary the Golden Hawks have both their corner backs back. Donavan West is one of those guys.
“We’re going to move Donavan to the weak side safety position.”
The other corner is Freddie Simmons.
“Our defensive corners play in space. He has great range. He has the ability to go up and get the ball because of his length. That’s good when you are matched up outside on people. His strength is his athleticism. It’s his ability to play left to right, cover ground and be able to get up and make plays on the ball.”
They have three guys battling for the other corner spot.
Josh Heron, Joe Smith and Andrew Nieves are the three battling.
Last year they lost all three safeties to graduation.
“Our free safety will be Elijah Fineran. He played quite a bit last year and rotated in. Donavan West who has two-years experience playing varsity football is just changing positions to weak side safety. The free safety spot right now looks like Mike McDaniel. But we also have Chance Neilley competing as well as a sophomore Damian Diaz.”
Special Teams Preview:
Freddie Simmons is the punt returner. The kick returners will probably be Freddie and Mike McDaniel as well as Antwon Keenan.
Dante Lonardo is the returning punter. They will know more about their kicker in camp.
Nate Burk is the long snapper and he did it last year.
Head Coach: Joe Henrich (4th year)
2013 Record: 8-5 (overall 12-21) District XI AAA Champions
Key Starters Lost: Marco Blasco-FB/LB,Chase Mancini-OL, Chris Figler-WR/S, Paul Mancini-OL/DL, Sean Moroney-S, Kyle Smichowski-S, Seamus Hickey-OL/DL,
Offensive Starters Returning: (8)
Mike Italiani-SR OG
Kyle Benbrook-SR OG
Mike McDaniel-SR RB
Freddie Simmons Jr.-SR WR
Colby Faasuamalie-SR OT
Will Ward-SR HB
Antwon Keenan-JR RB
Julian Spigner-JR QB
Defensive Starters Returning: (6)
Dante Lonardo-SR DE
Ryan Johnson-SR DE
Will Ward-SR MLB
Antwon Keenan-JR LB
Donavan West-SR CB
Freddie Simmons Jr. – SR CB
Key Newcomers: EJ Fineran-JR WR/S, Nate Burk-JR LB/FB, Josh Heron-SR WR/C, Chance Neilley-JR WR/S, Darius Aldridge-JR RB/S, Andrew Nieves-JR RB/C, Anthony Davis-JR OL/DL
D1 (FBS & FCS) Prospects: Freddie Simmons (8 offers +), Mike McDaniel, Dante Lonardo, Kyle Benbrook, Mike Italiani, Colby Faasuamalie, Antwon Keenan, EJ Fineran and Julian Spigner
Freddie Simmons Jr. – 38 Receptions, 703 Yards, 10 TD’s, 19.5 yds per rec, 17 KOR for 406 yds, 1 TD
Julian Spigner – 1,548 Passing Yards, 18 TD’s, 617 Rushing Yards, 2 TD’s
Antwon Keenan – 301 Yards Rushing, 118 Yards Receiving, 3 TD’s, 241 Retrun Yards for 1 TD. 3 Sacks, 11 TFL’s 1 FC, 1 INT, 65 total tackles
Mike McDaniel – 892 yards rushing, 23 td’s, 272 receiving yards, 3 td’s
Will Ward – 10 sacks, 21 TFL’s, 97 total tackles, 3 FC, 1 FR, 1 INT for 1 TD
Dante Lonardo – 3 sacks, 9.5 TFL’s, 47 total tackles, 2 FC
2014 Outlook: Coming of the 2013 season that saw the Hawks win its first District XI Championship since 2001, the 2014 squad is poised to make another run. Offensively, Becahi returns all of their skill position players from last year with the exception of Chris Figler. With a year of experience and another offseason of training the Hawk offense could be one of the most explosive in the area.
Defensively, Becahi returns 2013 tackle leader Will Ward and playmaker Antwon Keenan. Two starters return upfront to what should be a stout defensive front.
The biggest holes will be replacing all three safeties that are gone to graduation.
Overall, Coach Henrich believes he will have an experienced and hungry squad in 2014. The bitter taste of a 29-27 loss to Berwick in the state playoffs has created a renewed focus and level of energy in the Golden Hawk Football Program.
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