40 Teams in 40 Days – Day 9 – Troy Area (4)
Troy Area graduated their do everything quarterback Jed Wright and filling his shoes this year will be Isaac Havens. He’s a senior and a four-year starter. He’s a good runner and can throw the ball at times, so look for the Trojans to not miss a beat at the quarterback position this year.
“The quarterback on our offense has to be the best athlete on the team.”
Isaac does bring some experience back at the quarterback spot and he has played multiple positions. He has played tailback, slot back and a linebacker on defense.
“Isaac has had the most time last year at quarterback. He’s smart and very strong. He reads the option very well and he’s a physical runner. He was a backup last year and played against Athens in the district games his sophomore year. He is game ready.”
Nathan Swain is the backup and is recovering from an injury.
“If Nathan was healthy going into the season he would have had his opportunity to battle Isaac for the starting job.”
They hope to have Nathan back by mid-season.
The Trojans are an option team and the running attack is crucial in their offense. No need to worry about their running attack this year. They have a lot of experience coming back with five returning players from last year’s team. They return three running backs and two fullbacks that saw significant time last year.
“We had seven or eight backs last year and we lost two of those backs from last year. We’re going to do the same thing this year and rotate these five guys into the lineup. They all bring something different to the table.”
These five guys rotated every other play last year. The running backs are Brandon Mattocks, Chance Lantz and Diante Jones. These three guys combined for 1,786 yards on 255 carries and 22 touchdowns.
“They all bring something different to the table. Mattocks and Jones are smaller, faster, but elusive backs. They are game breaker type of guys. Lantz is a bigger more physical back. Lantz is a 230-pound kid and will run over you.”
The fullbacks are Nick Stephani and Ben Sherman.
“Sherman and Stephani are good blockers and physical kids. They really are a extension of our line.”
The Trojans can run with power or speed. By rotating five guys each game can wear a team down.
You need a good offensive line that is athletic to run an offense like this. The Trojans have four guys returning from last year’s team.
“They are very experienced and smart kids. They are big and strong and that is what makes it work. These guys really take pride in running the ball. I think last year week 14 we were leading the state in rushing and they want to do that again.”
Dylan Brennan returns at center and Brock Schucker returns at left tackle. Both players are three-year starters.
“Our center is 310-pounds and he’s fast. He’s very powerful and is our anchor on the line. Brock did play half the year on the line as a freshman. So, he really has played almost four-years as a starter. He’s a big kid too at 285-pounds.”
The two guards are two-year starters and they are Kyle Schucker and Takoda Kelley.
“The two guards about 230-pounds each. But they are more athletic and fast. They get down field and good at blocking linebackers.”
There will be a bunch of guys battling for the other tackle spot. Briar Jenkins is one kid. He played tight end last year and is a two-year starter. If someone else wins the spot he will play tight end.
“I think this may be the best line we ever had in my life time in remembering.”
Kyle Jackson returns at wide receiver. Last year was his first year starting at receiver.
“He’s a bigger kid and is fast. The biggest asset for our receivers is the ability to block down field. He does a fantastic job in that role. He is just an extension of the line. They have to understand that they are lineman first. We don’t throw the ball too much, but when we do he can catch the ball. He has good hands.”
The other receivers will be some of the running backs that will rotate to the slot.
“Brandon Mattocks is the perfect example. He’s maybe our most natural athlete on the team. He has great hands and is good in space. We used him a lot that way last year. That is the type of kid we rotate to receiver.”
Jordan Nelson didn’t start last year on varsity. He will see some action at receiver.
“He’s a tall kid at 6-foot-4 and has good hands.”
The biggest question on the defense will be the defensive line. They have one kid returning on the line.
“We lost a really good nose tackle Levi Smith and Walker West. Last year we ran a 3-5 defense. Those three guys ate up a lot of blocks and that was critical in our defense last year. There are going to be a couple of kids with some pretty hefty shoes to fill and that is a big unknown there.”
The only returning starter from last year is Briar Jenkins.
“He’s a 205-pound kid who is very athletic. He’s a smart kid and his biggest strength is his experience.”
They have some offensive linemen that don’t play defense that may battle for those spots.
One of their strengths on defense will be at linebacker. They return three backers from last year.
Middle linebacker Kyle Schucker returns for his third year.
“He’s big, physical and smart. He moves well from sideline to sideline.”
Nick Stephani returns at inside linebacker and as the defensive player of the year in their league last year. Isaac Havens returns for his second year.
“Nick started as a freshman and is our leader on defense.”
Ben Sherman may see some action at linebacker or on the defensive line. Tristen Drake is another guy to keep an eye on.
In the secondary they return three players. They are corner back Brandon Mattocks and this is his fourth year as a starter. At corner back Diante Jones and free safety Kyle Jackson are back.
“We don’t have the depth we had a year a go with some positions.”
If they get Nathan Swain back he will rotate in the secondary.
Special teams Preview:
Brandon Mattocks and Diante Jones are the kick and punt returners.
They graduated a tremendous kicker and punter in Josh MacClaren. That’s another position with big shoes to fill.
“That’s another unknown position we have to fill this fall. We had a really talented and special kicker the past few years and it will be hard to replace him. I really don’t know right now. He may be our biggest loss. ”
Dylan Brennan did some kickoffs last year and look for him to do that again this year.
Head Coach: Jim Smith
2013 Record: 11-3
Key Starters Lost: QB /Safety Jed Wright, K/P Josh MacClaren, DE Walker West, DT Levi Smith, OT/DT Caelan Taylor, LB Zach Edwards
Offensive Starters Returning: (12)
Sr. Dylan Brennan Center
Jr. Kyle Schucker Guard
Jr. Takoda Kelley guard
Sr. Brock Schucker Tackle
Sr. Briar Jenkins TE
Sr. Nick Stephani FB
Jr. Ben Sherman FB
Sr. Chance Lantz Tb
Jr. Diante Jones Tb
Sr. Brandon Mattocks Rb/ slot
Sr. Isaac Havens Slot/qb
Sr. Kyle Jackson Wr
Defensive Starters Returning: (7)
Sr Briar Jenkins DE
Jr. Kyle Schucker MLB
Sr. Nick Stephani LB
Sr. Isaac Havens LB
Sr. Brandon Mattocks CB
Jr. Diante Jones CB
Sr. Kyle Jackson FS
D1 (FBS & FCS) Prospects: Sr. Dylan Brennan Center
Key Stats: 2013 District 4 AA Champions
2014 Outlook. Our outlook will remain positive in our venture to make our little town proud. Friday night-lights are near.
Qb Isaac havens sr., or Nathan Swain jr. There certainly would have been a battle for the job early on, but Nathan is recovering from an injury and will returning hopefully by mid season.
Havens has seen a lot of action the past two years. Both are very good athletes capable of running the show.
Although we will be missing a great senior leader in Wright, I don’t anticipate the offense missing a beat.
The kids got a taste of success last year and got to play in the state quarter game. They set goals very high this year, but it’s one game at a time.
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