First Posted: 8/15/2014

Experienced groups in the offensive line and defensive backfield have Lake-Lehman well positioned to defend its titles in Wyoming Valley Conference and District 2 Class AA football.

The Black Knights won 11 straight games in 2013 between a season-opening loss at eventual state finalist Old Forge and their elimination from the state Class AA playoffs.

“There’s a target on us because everybody wants retribution from last year, as everybody should,” coach Jerry Gilsky said. “It’s a good group to have back. We have more depth than last year.”

That depth means Gilsky can use more of his players on just one side of the football than most Class AA teams.

“We’re keeping the one-way philosophy going,” he said. “If more than half of your team plays just one way, it keeps fresh legs out there.

“It’s nice in Double-A. If you can’t do that at a small school, you have guys playing the third and fourth quarter who are very tired. When you have one-wayers going, they’re fresh. It’s a tough situation, no matter how much you condition.”

Connor McGovern, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound junior, is back to anchor the offensive line from the center position. Cory Hoyt and Phil Hettes return at the two guard positions and Mason Little is back at tackle after suffering a knee injury early last season.

Zach Brucher, a 250-pound tight end, is also back to add more blocking up front.

“Our anchor this year is our offensive line,” Gilsky said.

Luke Hummel is back as a second tight end, when one is used, while Austin Parry and Chris Traver are working at the other tackle spot.

Joey Vigil ran for more than 1,300 yards last season as the breakaway threat balancing the power running of Dustin Jones and Brady Butler. With the others graduated, Vigil is likely to see the ball more often.

“He’s bigger this year, which is nice,” Gilsky said. “He has put on about 20 pounds.

“We’ll have him running between the tackles more which he didn’t have to do last year.”

Antonio Ferrari returns at quarterback.

Adam Pachamovitch, who saw action as an offensive utility player last year moving between tight end and wingback, is the new fullback.

Nick Eury will join Vigil at the wingback positions, depending on formation.

Jacob Yaple, who started before being hurt early, and Noah Gorski and Jimmy Stuart, who each have some experience, are the wide receivers.

“We’ll rotate a lot of guys in there,” Gilsky said.

The entire secondary – Vigil, Ferrari and Josh Sayre – returns. Sophomore Charlie Kuschke appears ready to rotate in, giving the offensive players a breather on defense.

Pachamovitch returns at inside linebacker where he will be joined by Hummel. Jimmy Stuart moved into the lineup at outside linebacker last season and will be joined by a combination of Eury, Yaple and Elijah Vigil.

Alex Major and Hettes return at defensive end where Brucher and David Kesner will also see playing time.

McGovern and Traver have some experience at tackle and are likely to share time there with Parry and Mason Rios.

The Black Knights open at home Friday, Aug. 29 against Lackawanna Trail.

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