The Wilmington High football team’s offense operates out of a wing-T formation.
The formation is a key one to the Greyhounds’ success. Wilmington has perfected that formation through the years, under previous coach Terry Verrelli and current coach Brandon Phillian.
Elon Horchler is helping to maintain the success of the offense for the Greyhounds. Wilmington rolled up 382 total yards, including 340 on the ground, in Friday’s 50-0 District 10, Region 1-1A/2A home win over Reynolds.
“At a program like Wilmington, we’ve been known basically since the dawn of time as a running team,” Horchler said. “For the line, it’s a gritty thing that we have to get in there and block guys and move guys.
“Even though our line is not the biggest that it was last year, we still have guys that are willing to get gritty and fight to make the blocks to open up the run game.”
Horchler, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior right guard/linebacker, is in his first season starting on the offensive line.
Horchler is a son of Ralph and Melanie Horchler.
“I thought Elon showed how relentless he is on the line,” Phillian said. “He’s not the biggest lineman on the team. He’s a guy that takes pride in the technique we use for the blocks.
“He’s relentless and he’s willing to get low; use his center of gravity and open up holes. One of the staples in the wing-T offense is the linemen have to be mobile. He’s very mobile and he’s extremely reliable. He’s a student of the game. Elon knows who to block on all of the plays. He knows what we’re trying to do.”
Last year, Morgan Whiting and Weston Phanco were in front of Horchler on the offensive line. Whiting and Phanco both earned District 10 all-region first team honors in 2020.
“Having two guys of that caliber in front of me is really good to learn from,” Horchler said. “Even though I had to sit back in my junior year and wait, I feel like that was valuable time spent learning from two veteran linemen like Weston and Morgan. It was nice to have our younger guys get in the game last year, too.”
Wilmington won its fifth consecutive District 10 championship last year before falling to Southern Columbia in the state title tilt. It was the program’s third trip to the state championship game in the last four years. Horchler wasted little time preparing for this season once the 2020 campaign came to a close.
“As a team, we worked hard throughout the winter,” Horchler said. “Other than working with my guys in the weight room, we also do agility stuff.
“It’s really good to get us prepared. It’s putting the time in in the weight room to prepare yourself.”
Said Phillian, “Elon was extremely dedicated to the offseason training program. He was always there and he was instrumental in that team aspect of training.”
Defensively, Horchler made some starts last year.
“He started some on the defensive line last year and some at linebacker,” Phillian said. “We rotated him some at linebacker.
“He’s actually moved into one of our linebacker spots this year. Elon has a nose for the football and he has a way of defeating blockers. The job of a linebacker is two fold. You have to defeat the blocker, then you have to make the tackle. He showed a great knack for defeating blocks. Then he found the ball carrier and made tackles.”
“Our defense, we like to go on the principle of flying around and getting to the football,” Horchler said. “Eleven dogs out there just going crazy. It was nice to see that on Friday (against Reynolds) that we got a lot of guys to the football. Swarming to the football and bringing them down.”
Football is the lone sport Horchler competes in. His future after high school is undecided.
“Overall, if college football comes my way, it would be nice. But, if not, you just have to stay the course,” he said.