Clyde Folsom has tried to pull back expectations in the past, but the West Deptford High School football coach has found that it never works.
So despite heavy turnover from last year's 11-1 team that won the Colonial Conference Liberty Division and reached the South Jersey Group II finals, the goals in 2011 will be as high as ever.
The way Folsom sees it, that’s the way things should be at West Deptford.
“Our expectations are high,” Folsom said. “I don’t know if we can take a step back from them. We have tried at times to limit our expectations, knowing it’s a young, inexperienced football team, but that’s a difficult thing to do. We are going to coach them like they are champions. The practice mentality, the way we go through practice, our tempo during the game, they are going to have to be able to do that.
"The tradition and the legacy that the former players have built, our guys are going to have to certainly be responsible to uphold. That’s a little bit of pressure but that’s just the way it is with success.”
His players appear ready to embrace that challenge.
“We definitely have the players and the talent to go all the way to states, and we are not setting any goal shorter than that,” said quarterback Jake Hannon.
If the Eagles are to live up to their lofty expectations they will need a big season from Hannon, who figures to see his pass attempts significantly increase from the 80 he tossed a year ago. Without Vaughn Scott and Rob Feraon in the backfield, more pressure will be on the senior signal-caller.
“There’s no question that without the perimeter speed we have had the last couple of years we are going to need to throw the ball effectively, particularly in the big games,” Folsom said.
That’s not to say the running game will not be as effective this season, but it will have a new look. Josh Cornelius is a powerful running back who figures to do much of his damage between the tackles. Aaron Bundy and Phil Fisher will also get carries as a committee will likely form.
“The past three or four years our internal run game has been kind of limited, because of our speed on the perimeter,” said Folsom. “This year, because we don’t have quite the same speed we’ve had in the past, our offense will be more so the internal part of the run game. We really think we will have a balance of the two, but will probably favor the internal part of the run game more so.”
Hannon believes the team can overcome the loss of Scott and Fearon because the Eagles can attack defenses a variety of ways.
“We have three running backs that can switch in and fullbacks as well,” said Hannon. “That presents a lot of problems for teams because we can do whatever you need us to do. We can run up the middle, we can get outside and we can throw the ball. That’s going to be very advantageous.”
West Deptford will once again have Haddonfield on its radar. The Eagles defeated the Bulldawgs, 31-28, in the regular season before falling to them in the playoffs. It marked the second straight year Haddonfield ended West Deptford’s season.
Although the two have faced off for decades, it hasn’t been until the last few years that a true rivalry has been formed. During his tenure at West Deptford, Clyde Folsom is 19-4 against Haddonfield.
However, Folsom isn’t ready to focus on Haddonfield yet. His eyes are squarely on Sept. 16 and the opener against Sterling.
“We lost 40 seniors the last two years so we are a very inexperienced football team right now and we really can’t look ahead to anyone,” Folsom said.
2011 Football Team
Coach: Clyde Folsom
Last year: 11-1.
Roster: Isaiah Easter ling (fr./qb); Josh Cornelius (jr./rb); Gerald Towns (so./fb); Branson Holmes (sr./fb); Devin Bates (so./rb); Alex Oldt (sr./rb); Isaiah Worthy (so./rb); Phil Fisher (sr./rb); Alex Hilbmann (jr./qb); Shai Mumford (so./wr); Jake Hannon (sr./qb); Mike Davis (so./qb); Connor Smith (jr./rb); Tom Jakubowski (sr./wr); Arrin Bundy (sr./rb); Nat Reigens (jr./wr); Herb Snyder (jr./wr); Ryan Flaherty (sr./wr); Luke Cornelies (fr./rb); Nat Wadding (jr./rb); Frank Lucas (sr./fb); Corey Scott (so./rb); T.J. Harcum (jr./te); Scott Dennis (sr./fb); Nick Pulli (so./te); Matt Uhr (so./g); Todd Jarrell (sr./g); Tom Dougherty (jr./lb); Mark Fischer (so./g); Jake Kull (fr./c); Ryan Hempsey (jr./g); Rich Smith (sr./t); Josh Roane (sr./t); Bryan Garson (jr./t); Nick Sacco (jr./c); Bruce Means (sr./g); Matt Donnelly (so./t); Jamil Pollard (sr./g); Julian Downing (jr./g); Jesse Thomas (so./wr); Pat Ennis (jr./te); Dave Tigue (jr./te); Jordan Evans (jr./t).
Teams to beat: West Deptford, Haddonfield.
Expectations: Winning has become the norm at West Deptford and although many of the names have changed the results are not expected too. West Deptford should be in the thick of the race for the Colonial Conference and Group II crowns.
Three storylines to follow:
-With the Eagles poised to throw the ball more, big things could come from Tom Jakubowski this season. Listed at 6-foot-3, Jakubowski is the tallest receiver on the team and already has a good connection with Hannon.
“Having that height for fades and slants, he can go up and get it, and that definitely helps,” Hannon said.
The Eagles will still run the ball plenty this season, but don’t be surprised if Jakubowski his a big season.
-The impact of Jamil Pollard. There’s no missing Pollard when he is on the field. At 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, he towers over most of the players that either wish to block or get by him. Pollard has a huge impact on both lines and will certainly be seeing double teams on the defensive side. It will be interesting to see how opposing coaches familiar with Pollard draw up game plans.
-Will the offensive production slip? It will be hard for the Eagles to produce the type of offense it did in 2010. In 12 games, the Eagles scored over 30 points 10 times. In four of those contests they broke 50. All of the offense led to a lot of lopsided games as the Eagles won by 30 or more an eye-popping eight times.
The good news is that even if the offense slows significantly, the team should still be able to power through the majority of its conference schedule.