Indiana hopes to cause matchup problems
Inexperience and injuries contributed to an adventurous 2012 season for Indiana, yet the Little Indians still made a serious challenge for the final WPIAL Class AAA playoff spot, losing out in the closing week of the regular season despite getting their third victory.
Coach Mark Zilinskas predicted they'll be a better team this year because of it.
“We feel like we took our lumps, and we feel like we made some progress,” he said. “Our kids fought through that.”
Quarterback-turned-running-back Dequan West is healthy again — he missed much of the previous season with hip and toe ailments — and his replacement, Sean Thompson, will try to build on a productive second half behind center.
Thompson, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound senior, will have some sizable targets at wide receiver.
Darrious Carter, a 6-5, 205-pound senior who is committed to Temple, and Riley Stapleton, a 6-5, 195-pound junior, could cause matchup problems for opponents.
“Both of those guys can do some things athletically. Both can go up and get the ball,” Zilinskas said. “Both of them had great days at a seven-on-seven (tournament) at Pitt (in July). It was a good experience for all of us.”
Senior Derek Stapleton (Riley's brother), junior Noah Mohney and sophomore Jacob Zilinskas (the coach's son) should see plenty of time at wideout, too.
“We feel like we've got five kids we can work in and out,” Coach Zilinskas said.
In the backfield, several candidates are hoping to complement West — a 6-1, 200-pound senior — including seniors Jordan Casses and Ian Scott and junior Miles Dietz.
“In a flex-run offense, any one of those guys can play slot or running back,” Zilinskas said.
This season, Indiana should benefit by the return of eight returning players on offense and nine on defense.
“We certainly had to play last year with a lot of first-year starters,” Zilinskas said. “We really came on at the end of the year.”
On the offensive line, Cody Squiric, a 6-2, 305-pound senior is getting interest from FBS and FCS schools, including Akron, Temple and Youngstown State, despite playing last season with a torn labrum.