Solid cast of returning players look to lead the Warriors

By on August 15, 2018
Returning senior players (left to right) Hayden Rucci, Adam Ricketts, and Nick Coomer will be counted on for leadership on the Warwick football team this fall. Photo by Bruce Morgan

Returning senior players (left to right) Hayden Rucci, Adam Ricketts, and Nick Coomer will be counted on for leadership on the Warwick football team this fall. Photo by Bruce Morgan

Following back-to-back tough losses a year ago to Hempfield and Manheim Township, Warwick found itself holding a record of 3-4 overall.

The Warriors were at a crossroads in their season and they responded with three straight victories, defeating Penn Manor, Conestoga Valley and McCaskey by a combined score of 156-55 to get themselves to the brink of a District Three 6A playoff berth.

Unfortunately, Warwick fell just a little bit short of that goal, taking 10th in the power ratings, with the top eight advancing to the post-season.

But the Warriors have a number of key players returning, including seniors Nick Coomer, Adam Ricketts and Hayden Rucci, who joined coach Bob Locker last Friday at Enck’s Catering in Manheim to talk about the 2018 campaign at the Lancaster-Lebanon League Media Day.

Coomer, a third-year returning starter at interior line on defense and a second-year offensive tackle, recently committed to continue his career at the University of Delaware.

Ricketts is back at quarterback after completing 66-of-118 aerials for 1,167 yards and 14 TDs in six games last fall.

And Rucci, a University of Wisconsin recruit, is returning at tight end and defensive end, having caught 19 passes for 376 yards and three TDs, in addition to adding 66 tackle points and three quarterback sacks on the defensive side of the ball.

Locker and his three players sat down for a Q&A with Lititz Record sports editor Bruce Morgan to talk about this year’s team and their goals.

Bruce Morgan: Adam, how much more comfortable do you feel at this point from where you were a year ago, having some games under your belt?

Adam Ricketts: Playing on Friday nights, obviously, is something that you can’t really get used to in practice, so having those couple games under my belt really helps a lot and makes me more confident because I know what to expect, I know what the hype is like, I know how the crowd is going to be, and how loud it is — all the stuff that you can’t really practice. It’s just in the back of your head when you go out there. So it’s awesome. Plus, we’ve got a lot of guys returning, so that makes me more confident. I’m feeling pretty good, but we’ll see what happens.

BM: Nick, you lost some good linemen from a year ago, if I’m correct.

Nick Coomer: Yes, we lost a lot of good linemen.

BM: How would you describe the state of the line right now?

NC: People are learning, they’re getting better. People have to step up, it’s as simple as that, and I think they’re coming to that challenge well and we’ve just got to keep getting better and learning things.

BM: Coach Locker, besides Nick and Hayden at tight end, who are the other linemen back from last year?

Bob Locker: Hunter Deibler has some varsity experience, Hayden Benner took a handful of reps, but we’re inexperienced. But we’ll be OK. We’ll be OK when the season gets here. Our line coaches do a fantastic job of preparing kids and I think we’ll be alright.

BM: Nick, what do you believe is the strength of the line?

NC: I think we can run-block very well, that’s our bread-and-butter, so we’ve just got to keep doing that well.

BM: Hayden, how are you a different player this year?

Hayden Rucci: During the off-season, I’ve been really working to get our young guys up to speed more and trying to bond with them, and it’s already been awesome just getting them comfortable with our offense, defense and just our team atmosphere. And I can tell we’re already a different team than when we started practice on Monday and just trying to get better every single day. So we’re really after it.

BM: Hayden and Nick, as a couple of Division-One guys here, what are your expectations for yourselves and the lines?

HR: Right now, I’m just focused on this season and trying to do as best as we can —to meet our potential and go beyond that. Right now, college is great, but we’re focused on the fact that we have some unfinished business here this season. So it will be fun.

NC: I couldn’t say it any better.

BM: Hayden, are you taking a guy that wears number 66 (brother Nolan, a sophomore lineman) under your wing a little bit?

HR: Yeah, he’s a little bit taller than me. It’s been fun. He’ll be serviceable.

BM: Looking at the team overall, what do you guys consider to be strengths?

HR: We have a bunch of skill guys coming back and then the people that we do have coming back have been really good at getting the young guys up to speed and getting more comfortable getting their offense down. I think one of our strengths definitely are the skill guys. We’ve got some veterans there.

BM: Adam, how excited are to work with those skill guys, and even with the running backs, they have to take some pressure off of you, right?

AR: Yeah, looking at what we have, if you look at stats, which you can’t always rely on, you’ll be able to say we have some guys returning that look pretty good. But that doesn’t really mean anything to us. These guys, they watch their film, they do what they have to do, so we’re pretty excited. We’ve got some things that we’d like to shuffle around and see what we can do, but we think we’ll be alright.

BM: Do you set goals for yourselves statistics-wise?

AR: No, we don’t really look at it that way. It’s more of, we want to do what it takes to win. We don’t care about personal stats, this guy having this many yards. It doesn’t matter.

NC: As long as we get the win on a Friday night, that’s all that matters.

HR: We’d like to score as much as we can on offense and shut down (opponents) as much as we can on defense too, but ultimately, just score more points than they do.

BM: What would make this a successful season?

AR: We think that we have a shot at the Section. We’re confident that we can make playoffs, that’s always a big (goal), get a playoff win and do what we can do around the League. So we’re excited. We’re definitely excited.

BM: How much do you guys talk about, even off the practice field, of, ‘We want to be the first team to get our first District playoff win at Warwick?’

HR: That would be pretty special because no other Warwick team has done that, and I think everybody’s focused on getting to reach our goals at the end of the season and see what we can do.

AR: We would definitely be lying if we said it was never talked about, but I don’t think it’s the focus of what we’re talking about because every team in the L-L talks about making playoffs and winning the Section. But we’ve got to win Week One.

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