Coaches showing optimism for new-look Fort Cherry
The Fort Cherry football team will look quite a bit different this year.
Three-year starting quarterback Tanner Garry, who accounted for 36 touchdowns last season, graduated, meaning the Rangers likely will abandon the shotgun system they used.
“We're going to have to go back to our roots — old-time, Fort Cherry smashmouth football,” coach Jim Shiel said.
Shiel represents another change with the program as the first Rangers coach without the last name of Garry. Jim Garry coached Fort Cherry from the program's founding in 1959 through 2002, and his son Tim succeeded him through the end of last season.
But while Shiel isn't a member of the Garry family, he does belong to the Fort Cherry family.
He played for the Rangers in the 1980s and coached the junior varsity for the past 13 seasons.
Shiel's team returns just three starters on offense and five on defense. While the coach acknowledged experience could become a factor, he still remembers the team that went undefeated in junior high after Tanner Garry moved on to high school.
“There wasn't as much raw talent, but they bought into the system,” he said. “They were athletic and weren't big, but (they) were scrappy. They played very well as a team, very selfless. I think that's why they did so well back then, and I'm seeing that again.”