By Bill Hughes
Published: Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Good football teams never rebuild.
They simply reload.
And with Ringgold, that is the plan accoring to coach Matt Humbert.
During his first two years as the head football coach Humbert led the Rams to a combined 17-4 record, including 13-1 in conference play.
Even though the Rams lost a bevy of key players from those first two teams, Humbert isn't thinking rebuild.
And why should he?
The cupboard is certainly not bare for Ringgold in 2012.
“The nice thing is we have 22 seniors and that is a good luxury to have coming back,” Humbert said. “We lost talent, but we have a lot back.”
Leading the way in Humbert's spread I offense will be a pair of skilled seniors in running back Demetrius Louis and “jack of all trades” Joey Wall.
Louis is one of two Ram seniors, along with right guard and defensive tackle Nygel Vann, who are in their third season as a starter.
“They are two of the best athletes in the conference,” Humbert said of Louis and Wall. “Demetrius is a Division I athlete and Joey will play all over the field.”
One key loss for Ringgold is two-year star quarterback Quad Law.
Taking snaps this year will be a pair of quarterbacks.
Senior Chris Spahr saw some time last year while sophomore Niko Law is the younger brother of last year's starter.
“We have two quarterbacks and I can't deem a starter,” Humbert said. “We are lucky to have two and both will see time. They both have great qualities that offset each other.”
Spahr and Law will be slinging the ball to Wall as well as seniors Pernell Barner and Tino Rigano and junior Alan Pritchett.
Tight ends seeing time will be a pair of seniors in Austin Young and Brian Arnold.
Seeing time in the backfield with Louis will be seniors Jacob Foglia and Justin Rich, juniors Robert Chaney and Arthur Long, and freshman Chacar Berry.
Joining Vann on the offensive line will be senior right tackle Jeremy Staternos, senior center Matt Devenney, junior left guard Nick Trocano, and senior left tackle Chase Colucci.
Other linemen who will see time could include seniors Joe Malachosky and Malcolm Hickman and juniors Anthony Martin and Zach Wooley.
Defensively, the Rams will show a 4-4 base cover three look.
The starting defensive ends are Foglia and Young Hickman and Colucci also seeing time.
The starters at defensive tackle are Vann and Staternos with Wooley and senior Jim Schran also seeing time.
Wall and Pritchett are the starting outside linebackers while Chaney, Rigano, and sophomore Luke Baldesberger will see action.
Rich and junior Matt Kirby are the starting inside linebackers. Also seeing time on the inside will be Long, senior Spencer Allen, and senior Chase Taylor.
The starting cornerbacks are Law and Barner while Louis is the safety.
Other defensive backs seeing playing time will be Spahr and junior Dayshore Majors.
A pair of sophomores, Josh Brisco and Connor Dudas, are battling for the kicking duties.
The Rams play in the newly revamped Big Nine Conference, which is a combination of the former Keystone and Big Nine conferences.
The WPIAL schedule-makers didn't do the Rams any favors as five of their first seven games are on the road, but Humbert isn't worried.
“That doesn't bother me at all,” he said. “Our scrimmages are at home and we have done well on the road in my two years.
“Plus, we don't have a bus trip over 40 minutes.”
The Rams open at perennial power Thomas Jefferson on Aug. 31 and go to Humbert's alma mater, Laurel Highlands, a week later.
“TJ is always one of those teams in AAA that do what they need to do,” Humbert said. “West Mifflin is a talented team. They are both well-coached.”
The Rams open their home slate on Sept. 14 when they host Belle Vernon Area.
“I view us as one of the top three teams in the conference and we have a lot of kids that have bought in and sold out,” Humbert said.
“Our numbers during the summer didn't dip below 50. We may have lost a few key guys and some role players who were leaders last year, but it is just a matter of what kids will fit into which positions.”
Bill Hughes is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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