SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — The Abington Heights football team will look to return to the district playoffs in 2015 after failing to qualify last season for the first time since 2011.
Despite the team’s 4-6 record, Comets head coach Joe Repshis was pleased with the effort from start to finish.
“Looking back, I was very proud of the team,” he said. “I thought the players worked extremely hard throughout the course of the season. They dealt with some adversity, but continued to come to practice every day and improve. At no point did I feel we weren’t continuing to improve and players weren’t giving a great effort. I learned a lot from that group and we have many of those players returning. They have resiliency and the ability to overcome obstacles. I think those things will help us a great deal this season.”
The Comets had key players graduate off last year’s team, but also have returning players who saw significant time on the field last season.
“They may not have been starters, but during the course of the season they contributed a great deal on offense, defense or special teams,” Repshis said. “In that sense, we have some experience coming back as a whole.”
Senior Jordan Hollander returns as the starter at quarterback after missing the final three games last year with a kidney injury.
Hollander believes the seniors need to set a positive example for new players to follow on a daily basis.
“It all starts at practice,” he said. “I think our intensity needs to be better and we need to be more focused. If the seniors play our best and work as hard as we can, the younger kids will follow us and try to beat us. It makes everyone better.”
Sophomore Rheyse Green, junior Ryan Harvey and senior Colin Ruby will rotate at running back. Juniors Charlie Gromelski and Brian Ostrowski and sophomore Owen Hivner are in the mix at fullback.
Juniors Brad Bauman, Nick Emmett, Tom Rothenberger, Colin McCreary and Brandon Hardy are expected to be the top threats at wide receiver.
Senior Anthony Kimble is the projected starter at tight end. Junior Nick Badalamente will be the starting center, juniors Ryan Davis and Corey Justave will be the offensive tackles, and seniors Jason Tinsley and Kyle Gerrity are projected to be the starting guards.
On defense, Emmett, Rothenberger and Hardy should see time at cornerback. Hollander will play strong safety and McCreary will start at free safety. Harvey may also see time at safety.
Juniors Ben Vale and Collin Huggler, Gromelski, Ruby and Kimble will be in the rotation at linebacker.
“We don’t have many seniors this season; we have to rely on the junior class,” Kimble said. “We have to bring them up and make sure they really trust in themselves and are ready for the games.”
Junior Logan Hivner, Badalamente, Tinsley, Gerrity, Justave and senior Jason Kontz will all see time on the defensive line.
McCreary will handle the kicking and punting duties.
Repshis, in his 11th year as the head coach at Abington Heights, stressed making improvements in all aspects of the game over the off-season.
“Our main goal was to improve across the board, regardless of the position,” Repshis said. “We want to improve our overall strength, speed, agility and athleticism as a team.”
Abington Heights will open the 2015 season at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4 at Pittston Area.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.