Just after Central Mountain coach Travis Thompson was hired this past February, he had plans of what the new-look Wildcats would look like come mid-August. After spring workouts began, though, Thompson learned more about his players’ skill sets and made adjustments to what the offense and defense should look like.
Thompson is not trying to fit offensive and defensive schemes with players that won’t register with their particular play-style. Instead, the first-year coach fine-tuned workouts in the offseason to tailor specific individuals and worked to find the best matchups for guys on the team.
For any other high school football program in the area, that may be a normal, routine thing to do. But Central Mountain lacked that last season and now that it has a system in place, the dynamic and trajectory of the team has changed tremendously. It gave the Wildcats confidence to win its first game on Friday against Bloomsburg, helped individuals like WR Connor Foltz break the all-time receptions record and it’s boosting guys to put the team in best-case-scenario more often.
RECEIVERS AND RUNNING BACKS
Foltz has always been the focal point of Central Mountain’s offense. The senior receiver averaged a team-best 38 yards per game last season and current-senior Dom Longworth was the second-best at 23 yards. So far this season, Foltz is already up to 47 yards per contest after his most recent 54-yard game.
So there was no surprise when Foltz was able to become the player with most receptions in WR history. Foltz is clearly a problem on offense for quite some time. The three-year varsity stud has produced almost 1,400 career receiving yards after his second game this season.
As teams begin to target Foltz — possibly double-teaming him to take away that option — that’s only going to help the Wildcats flourish in an offense that gives multiple players opportunities to earn touches.
It’s already proven to open up other receivers such as Dom Longworth, who made huge, 59 and 24-yard plays in the Bloomsburg win.
Running back Rocco Serafini is a seasoned senior who has done damage since his sophomore year. Serafini totals 859 rushing yards, including 284 that have come in the first two games of the season.
Central Mountain knows the talent and skill set those two guys bring to the table. But in Thompson’s new system, where junior RB Osten Lindsay and WR Longworth are entered into the picture as two more playmakers, the Wildcats make themselves more difficult to guard from a season ago.
It’s amazing what one year can do. This time last season, the Wildcats made a road trip to Bloomsburg and lost, 42-21. Quarterback Tom Sprague threw 7-for-8 for 118 yards in that game behind starter Brady Myers. Since Sprague took over as QB1, he’s made some efficient changes.
While Sprague got a decent amount of playing time last season, much of it was in garbage time when the plays he made didn’t affect the outcome of the game. So far this season, Sprague has thrown 17 of 34 for 266 yards and three touchdowns, an average of 133 yards per game. Against Bloomsburg, he tossed three touchdowns and 137 yards.
Serafini’s and Sprague’s efficiency doesn’t come without a strong offensive line presence. The OL paved an immaculate way for 475 yards. Linemen don’t always get the credit for what thye do, but they provide blocks and create holes for talented QBs and Backs. That’s the beauty of having eight senior offensive and defensive linemen, including 15 juniors and seniors.
Central Mountain hits the road for the second time this season when it faces Shikellamy. More on that in Friday’s local preview, but for now, the Wildcats are back to work. In the first conference game of the year, it’ll be an important road test for Central Mountain. More over, the Braves dropped a home matchup with Mifflin County Friday. The Wildcats just need to figure out how to keep its new system flowing where everyone is involved, and make adjustments on the fly.
Zach Powell is the sports editor at The Express. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealZachPowell.