FACTORYVILLE — After winning 29 games over the past four seasons, Lackawanna Trail will have new faces on both sides of the football in 2015.
Senior tight end Steven Scioscia is the Lions only returning starter on offense.
Scioscia, one of seven seniors, believes the upperclassmen have to be responsible for leading the way.
“I definitely think our senior core is going to have to do a good job being leaders and making the younger players feel comfortable in their new positions,” he said. “I want to go out and compete in every single one of our games, and feel like I left everything I had on the field.”
Junior Thomas Huffsmith is expected to take over as the starter at fullback.
“In the Wing-T (offense), we always want to start with a strong running game,” Lackawanna Trail head coach Steve Jervis said. “The fullback position is critical and I think he has all the tools to be a very good, all-around football player.”
Senior Rocco Pacini and junior Anthony Berrios are expected to serve as the primary running backs. Junior James Gillespie will likely play both running back and fullback.
Junior Matt Bergey, sophomore Quinn Jagoe and freshman Cody Moyle will be the main threats at wide receiver.
Freshman Nathan Rolka and junior Tyler Baltrusaitis are competing for playing time at quarterback.
On the offensive line, senior Nick Rolka will start at left tackle, senior Trent Phillips will be the left guard, senior Robert Buck will likely start at center, junior Gregory Ellsworth will start at right guard and sophomore Shawn Jones and junior Tyler Flynn should both see time at right tackle.
Despite having a slew of new starters, Jervis is confident the team will be able to continue executing an efficient offence.
“It starts with understanding and running our system,” Jervis said. “Even though the kids might not be returning starters, they all have a lot of experience in the Wing-T.
“They gained playoff experience the last four years and understand what it means to compete at a very high level. We’re expecting our seniors to maintain the tempo at practice that is needed to be successful.”
On defense, Scioscia returns at outside linebacker, Phillips is back at defensive end, Baltrusaitis returns at cornerback and Nick Rolka returns as a defensive lineman.
Pacini, Flynn, Jones and senior Lenny Watkins are competing for time on the defensive line.
Huffsmith and Gillespie will likely start at the inside linebacker spots. Sophomores Thomas Kohinsky and D.J. Klinges may also see time at inside linebacker. Berrios will serve as the other starting outside linebacker.
Bergey is projected as the other starting cornerback and Jagoe should work at free safety.
“Defensively, I think the two keys will be winning third down and improving our red-zone defense,” Jervis said.
Huffsmith and Nathan Rolka will share the kicking and punting duties.
Jervis, who is in his seventh year at the helm of Lackawanna Trail, mentioned Carbondale, Old Forge and Susquehanna as the teams likely to provide the toughest competition within Lackawanna League Division 3 play.
Lackawanna Trail will open the 2015 regular season at home at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4 against Lake-Lehman.
The Lions have been defeated in the first round of the District 2 Class A playoffs the past four seasons and Phillips believes the team must work better together in order to break through with a playoff victory.
“It’s going to take a lot more cohesiveness as a team,” he said. “We need to work as one (unit) instead of as a bunch of individuals.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.