Consistent Antelopes have high expectations
Duke Johncour and his Avonworth players remember all too well how last season ended. Each of the past three seasons, the Antelopes' postseason ended with a loss to nonconference rival Rochester.
“That's definitely on our minds,” Johncour said. “But they're focused on the opportunity and task at hand.”
Avonworth will start the season against Rochester (Aug. 30) before opening a tough Eastern Conference slate Sept. 6 vs. Riverview.
The Antelopes have made the playoffs the past five seasons and compiled a 43-13 record over that span, becoming one of the more consistent teams in Class A.
“We're excited for the year,” said Johncour, who is entering his third year as head coach and 13th overall with Avonworth. “Our expectations are high.”
The Antelopes are returning their top passer and rusher in sophomore Zach Chandler and junior Andrew Broadus, respectively. Chandler won the starting job in camp last year.
Senior Matt Donovan is returning from an early-season injury and could still compete for reps.
“He grew and matured with experience by leaps and bounds last year,” Johncour said of Chandler's freshman season. “He did a whale of a job. He really did a great job for us. To put any freshman in that situation is going to be tough.”
The Antelopes had one of the most balanced attacks in Class A, collecting 2,788 total yards — 1,362 rushing and 1,426 through the air.
Along the offensive front, seniors Vince Bevilacqua, Gunner Goldie and Jeff Markovich are returning starters. Senior Jesse Zubik and junior Josh Drwal are back to line up on the outside.
“We have a good group of seniors coming back that have a lot of experience,” Johncour said. “A lot played as sophomores.”
Defensively, three-year starter Dalton Day will man the middle of Avonworth's 4-4 defense, which ranked 12th in the WPIAL allowing 2,076 total yards.
“We're looking for him to do really good things for us there,” Johncour said. “Our linebacking corps is pretty solid.”
Drwal and Zubik will see time at cornerback, and starter Brad Mankey — who led the team with four interceptions last year — returns at safety.
“We got a lot of returning experience,” Johncour said. “We get our shot Week 1 (to prove ourselves).”
“We're looking forward to working together and see how far we can take this thing.”