NTL FOOTBALL: FIRST-YEAR COACH SEES POTENTIAL IN 2023 REDSKINS
(2023-08-24)By TIM BIRNEYValley Sports Report
SAYRE — First-year Sayre football coach Ricky Lindblad sees a lot of potential in the 2023 Redskins, despite the fact the program has not played a varsity game since 2021.
Sayre did not field a varsity football team last year for the first time since 2012, but its JV team was unbeaten.
“With 10 seniors and 11 juniors, and coming off a successful JV season last year … again JV and varsity are completely different, but as a coaching staff we feel we can be competitive in every game,” said Lindblad.
“One of our goals is .500, and we’re aiming even higher than that,’ he noted. “We would really like to qualify for Districts, and compete for an NTL Division title.
“We understand Sayre was down and out, but we want to come back and possibly surprise a few teams with our numbers and toughness,” continued Lindblad. “We want to get after it this year, let the kids have fun, and build the program back up, that way we can continue to have more successful years to come.
“Having a football team again is important for this community, and we want to represent it as best we can,” he added.
Junior Mikey Griffin will anchor the offensive line at center, with senior Aiden Reed and junior Austin Benjamin starting at the guard spots, and senior Will Crossett and sophomore Kiyshon Kole manning the tackle spots
Junior Alex Brackel, senior David Huang, senior Andrew Lynch, junior Ryan Ressler, junior Mason Rucker, sophomore Logan Zingeser, and freshman Tanner Henry will provide depth along the offensive line.
Senior Tanner Green will start at quarterback, with senior Kaden Bennett, junior Jamier Kole, and junior Dalton Forrest set to see the majority of carries at running back.
Sophomore Karter Green will start at tight end, with junior Nick Pellicano and senior Aidan Ennis, with senior Dayton Medina getting the majority of action at wide receiver.
Lindblad said it all starts up front for the Redskins.
“We have to be physical up front in the trenches.
“Every successful team in the NTL right now starts with their front lines, controlling the line-of-scrimmage, opening up holes for running backs, and giving the quarterback time to throw, he said.
“We have a good corps of receivers, and a good running back and quarterback behind, so if we can do our job up front making holes, we’re going to be OK, and control the game clock,” Lindblad added.
Lindblad also likes his team’s athleticism.
“We have some very athletic kids, and speed across the board offensively with those kids,” he said. “They’re very knowledgeable, pick up things vey quickly, and most of them are juniors and seniors.
“Looking at the leadership and athleticism from those guys, our strength is probably our skill guys,” Lindlblad added.
The Redskins will play a 4-4 base defense.
Griffin, Reid, Crossett, Lynch, and Ressler will see time at defensive ends, while Benjamin, Brackel, Huang, Kiyshon Cole, Rucker will vie for time at defensive tackle.
Bennett, Karter Green, freshman Jordan Brown, Ennis, Forrest, Medina, freshman Hudson Malanoski, and junior Tieryn Walmsley will vie for time at linebacker.
Pellicano, senior Will Depew, Jamier Kole, junior Theo Molina, and senior Victor Mumo will vie for time in the defensive backfield, with Tanner Green possibly seeing some time at safety.
“We have some guys playing in different positions this year,” said Lindblad. “Obviously having a new coaching staff, we’ve moved some pieces around.
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily a weakness, it’s just them understanding the difference between the position from where they may have played last year, and where we have them this year.”
Depth could be a concern for the Redskins.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a weakness, but we’re a little bit thinner at linebacker and in the defensive backfield, than we are on the defensive line,” he said.
“We have 29 guys, including 10 seniors and 11 juniors … depth is not necessarily a concern, but here and there we will have some young underclassmen in the line-up,” noted Lindblad. “We just need to make sure they understand their assignments when they have to fill a spot for a little bit.”
As for special teams, Crossett will handle the punting and place-kicking duties, with Ennis or Crossett handling the kick-offs.
Jamier Kole and Pellicano will share the punt return duties, while Pellicano, Forrest or Jamier Kole will return kicks.
Malanoski or Griffin will handle the long-snapping chores.
If you combine the facts that the 2020 (Covid) season limited Sayre to just three games, the 2021 team boasted 13 seniors, and there was no varsity team in 2022, the current roster has little varsity experience.
“As varsity football players, we don’t have a lot of experience,” said Lindblad. “A lot of our kids haven’t played football in two years, or haven’t played varsity football before … there is a difference in the speed of the game, but we have smart kids, who have been around the sport, and played other varsity sports.
“They grasp things quickly, and are very coachable,” he added. “I think we’ll adjust.”
Sayre opens the 2023 campaign Friday night at Canton, which is the two-time defending District 4, Class A champion.
IN PHOTO 1: Sayre coach Ricky Lindblad.
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