The job market is hot at Wilmington.
Coming off another run to a PIAA Class 2A championship game, the Greyhounds found themselves with plenty of openings when their successful core graduated after amassing a 49-5 record.
Though, it’s not an unfamiliar situation. They had a similar quandary heading into the 2019 campaign and that worked out pretty well for the program, which claimed the D-10 title and reached Hershey.
“The big theme in 2019 was for that group to create its own identity,” Wilmington coach Brandon Phillian said. “I think this group is eager to leave its imprint on this program. We have a proud tradition and each group wants to leave its own mark. I am excited to report they are working hard to make that happen at this point.”
The list of returning starters is small – four on defense and two on offense – but that’s led to some intense competition for starting spots, instead of just sorting out secondary roles.
“The big thing that maybe adds a little more excitement to camp is having so many position battles. So many guys are given the opportunity to complete and earn a spot. It’s created a buzz for us,” Phillian said. “It’s a great challenge to fill those spots, but it’s a challenge both the coaching staff and players are excited about.”
Beside the talent and skill lost to graduation, a leadership void was created, too.
“I think the seniors are doing a great job leading this team, guys like Luke Edwards, Elon Horchler, Brayden Penwell and Skyler Schuller,” Phillian said. “They are doing a great job working with the younger guys on the team, helping them grow as players and people. I am excited to continue working with those guys in that leadership role. When you look at this year’s team, they have had great players come before them. They were not just talented players, but great mentors. They’ve taken time to invest and work with players on the team to help them develop. This group has seen what it takes to have a successful program. It’s their time to pay it forward, too.”
On offense, Penwell is the lone returning starter on the offensive line that set the tone for Wilmington’s strong runs the past two seasons. Seniors Ashton Williamson and Horchler, junior Matt Sevachko and sophomores Rocky Serafino, Carter Horkovy and Willie Moore and junior tight end Michel Chrastina are part of the new-look line, too.
“I think that’s going to be a huge key — it may even be the key to the entire season,” Phillian said. “We’ll have to replace four offensive linemen and our tight end. I really think how well we are able replace them and what level we can get them to play to will dictate our season. Those guys in the past, the left hand knew what the right hand was doing. They functioned as a unit. Physically, we’re doing a nice job up front, but can we develop that synergy and chemistry on the line?”
Senior Cole McCallister and sophomore Tuff McConahy are battling for the quarterback position. Edwards, a running back, is the other returning starter. He rushed for 364 yards last season. Junior Gage DeCaprio and sophomores Ben Miller and Tyler Mikulin will see carries. All three lettered last year. McCallister and McConahy could both see time a wide receiver, along with Davis Phanco and Buddah Book.
Defensively, the ’Hounds Hammer will have a new look also. The front seven features returning starting linebackers Sholler, Edwards and Horchler. Willie Moore, Penwell, Serafino, Mikulin, Miller, Chrastina, Sevachko, Horkovy and Williamson will all see time. Ty Milliron, Phanco, Book, DeCaprio, Edwards, McCallister and McConahy will be part of the secondary, too.