COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: A preview look at the 2017 Kennard-Dale Rams football team
- Kennard-Dale is coming off an 0-10 season in 2016.
- That included an 0-7 record in York-Adams Division II contests.
- The 2016 team featured three freshman and five sophomore starters on both sides of the ball.
This is the ninth installment of our daily preview capsules leading up to the start of the York-Adams League high school football season.
►Team: Kennard-Dale Rams.
►Coach: Chris Grube, second year.
►2016 record: 0-10 overall, 0-6 York-Adams League Division II.
►Key losses (2016 All-Stars in bold): Shawn Ellis, running back and corner back; Luke Gabriele, tackle, defensive tackle, guard.
►Key returners (2016 All-Stars in bold): Brennan Beach, senior, receiver and linebacker; Wyatt Cairns, senior, receiver and defensive back; Jerome Chemelli, senior, guard and defensive tackle; Tanner Harkins, senior, tackle and defensive tackle; Michael Lizzi, senior, running back and linebacker; Dalton Stike, senior, running back and defensive back; Elijah Alvez, senior, receiver and defensive back; Johnathan Brown, junior, tight end and defensive end; Wesley Forrester, junior, guard and linebacker; Ryan Gibney, junior, running back and linebacker; Noah Hulslander, junior, quarterback and defensive back; Noah Kull, junior, center and linebacker; Jacob Rose, junior, running back and defensive back; Guy Shrewsburry, junior, running back and defensive back; Jaylen Kennedy, sophomore, tackle and defensive end; Patrick Maloney, sophomore, tackle and defensive end; Wyatt McCleary, sophomore, running back and linebacker; Joshua Vipperman, sophomore, running back and defensive back.
►2017 schedule (Division II games in bold): Sept. 1, at Pequea Valley (7 p.m.); Sept. 8, at Hanover (7 p.m.); Sept. 16, at York Tech (1 p.m.); Sept. 22, vs. York Suburban (7 p.m.); Sept. 29, at West York (7 p.m.); Oct. 6, vs. Dover (7 p.m.); Oct. 13, at Gettysburg (7 p.m.); Oct. 20, vs. Eastern York (7 p.m.); Oct. 27, vs. Susquehannock; Nov. 3, vs. Columbia (7 p.m.).
►Outlook: The Rams continue their rebuild of a program that saw injuries and inexperience result in a winless 2016 campaign. However, Grube feels maturity and experience this year will lead to a better team.
The 2016 team featured three freshman and five sophomore starters on both sides of the ball. The good news is K-D wasn’t decimated by graduation. The Rams did see team captain Shawn Ellis and line leader Luke Grabriele depart.
Tanner Harkins and Jerome Chemelli will be tasked with leading the Rams in the trenches. Harkins is already gaining attention from NCAA Division II and Football Championship Subdivision programs.
Noah Hulslander will be under center, with Wyatt McCleary returning at running back. As a freshman, McCleary ran for 448 yards. Michael Lizzi, Dalton Stike and Guy Shrewsbury will also be in the mix at running back.
Wyatt Cairns will lead the receivers this year and Elijah Alvez, a senior in his first season with the Rams, will be looked at to play an integral part in the passing game.
After suffering through a slew of injuries last season, Grube says the key to the Rams turning heads this year will be staying on the field.
“Can we stay healthy?” Grube said. “We have geared our lifting program on lifts that will hopefully increase our chances on preventing injuries and staying healthy throughout the season.”
The schedule for the Rams isn’t without its highlights. For instance, K-D starts the season with four of its first five contests on the road. Conversely, that affords the Rams three straight home contests to close the season.
The match-up of most interest might be when the Rams host York Suburban on Sept. 22. The location will be familiar to both head coaches. Grube and Suburban coach Andy Loucks both teach at K-D.
“Coach Loucks is a teacher at K-D, along with myself,” Grube said. “And players really get excited about that game, and there is always some friendly chatter that occurs throughout the school.”
►Quotable: "We faced a great deal of adversity last season when it came to season-ending injuries by key players, and I firmly believe that last year's hardships will make us a stronger football team this year.” — Chris Grube.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.