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Warriors look to bounce back from disappointing 2011 season
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
It’s been more than nine months since Warwick’s football team finished off a disappointing 2-8 season last fall.
But the bad taste still lingers among their returning players.
"If you come into the weight room or see us running or coming out to our practices, you know how hard we’re working and it’s pretty much just stemming from we don’t want that to ever happen again, especially for coach (Bob) Locker," senior lineman Tom Devenney said at L-L League Media Day last Friday. "It really wasn’t fair to him."
For Warwick, last season marked their first losing record since 2005.
But Devenney, along senior quarterback Zach Hurst and senior lineman A.J. Sanderson, talked at Media Day about being optimistic for their chances to bounce back this coming fall.
"We’ve got some good pieces in the right places and we’ve got some experience and I think we can compete," Sanderson said.
"We had a lot of injuries (in 2011)," Hurst said, "so it kinda worked to our advantage for this year because players got to play that wouldn’t have played and now this year, they already have a few games of experience. So when they’re out on a Friday night this year, like as a junior or whatever, they know what to expect. It was a struggle last year, but this year I think it will help us."
Hurst, who passed for a team-high 678 yards as a sophomore, was among those bit by the injury bug a year ago, as he missed the majority of the season battling shoulder and concussion issues. In fact, he was one of four QB’s to play under center for the Warriors in 2011.
But the 6-foot-0, 163-pound signal-caller said he is healthy and ready to go this fall.
"(The shoulder) hasn’t bothered me all off-season," Hurst said. "Last off-season, it bothered me a few times. During 7-on-7’s, I’d fall on it and then it would kinda pop and I was kinda watching it. But this off-season, it hasn’t been an issue at all."
With a veteran line in front of him, that could pay dividends in keeping Hurst healthy in 2012. The Warriors lost Dalton Bollinger and Jared Good to graduation, but Devenney (6-3, 278), who received Section One Lineman of the Year honors, and Sanderson (6-0, 215) will help lead the way in the trenches this year.
"We’ve got Tom — he was Lineman of the Year and that in itself says a lot. We’ve got A.J. and he’s really good," Hurst said. "And we’ve got a bunch of other guys that rotate in and out that all played last year and I feel confident in all of them."
The respect is mutual among the linemen toward Hurst. Although the QB position was a revolving door last season, they believe that the Warriors have the ability to keep defenses honest this fall.
"I feel like we’re going to utilize Zach’s arm because he’s pretty good and I think with Zach, we can throw the football with anybody," Sanderson said.
To be sure, the Warriors will have their share of tests on the schedule. Warwick renews its rivalry against back-yard rival Manheim Central in week one (Aug. 31) and they will try to win the George Male Trophy for the seventh consecutive year in week three (Sept. 14) against lone-time rival Ephrata.
Then in the third week of the Section One season on Oct. 5, the Warriors will host defending Double-A State champ Lancaster Catholic at Joseph Grosh Field.
"I think it’s going to be a lot of fun this year having Catholic in our Section, especially," Devenney said. "That will just strengthen this Section a lot and playing Central the first game is going to be a huge test for us. But we’ve been working hard getting to that point of feeling comfortable playing full speed. Then of course the Ephrata game, you can’t say enough about it. It’s one of the longest rivalries in this league. It’s always a lot of fun going up there and playing them." More WARRIORS, page B-4