Fresh faces ready to make impact as West Greene looks to defend Tri-County South title
Tuesday, August 23, 2022 | 12:01 PM
For the first time under coach Brian Hanson, the West Greene football team will go into the season with a new look.
Coming off another WPIAL Class A Tri-County South Conference championship, the Pioneers will be looking to replace 11 seniors from last season’s team. It’s a task Hanson is looking forward to, but also a task that creates more question marks than answers, at least early on.
“We have three returning starters on offense and four returning starters on defense,” said Hanson, who is entering his fourth season as coach. “This is by far the youngest team.
“This group, there’s gonna be a lot of fresh faces that are going to be heavily leaned on.”
For starters, the fresh faces will show up across the offensive line. For years, West Greene had size up front and nearly mimicked a Class 4A or 5A school. This year, the Pioneers will need to rely more on speed and technique up front instead of just blowing opposing defenses off the ball as in years past.
“(In year’s past) we were huge across the offensive line,” Hanson said. “Now, we’re gonna look like a Class A football team.
“We don’t have those skyscrapers anymore. We have to play to that and take advantage of (our) quickness and (our) ability to run. We got to be fundamentally sound, and we have to have the mentality that we have to be the hammer and not the nail. I’ll take sheer quickness over size. Size is only important if you can move. If our offensive line plays sound football, I think we’ll be able to put points on the board.”
The offense will run through 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior quarterback Colin Brady. Brady, a PIAA qualifier in track, played running back last season where he averaged 131.3 yards per game. Brady is certainly a dual threat quarterback who will be a threat to run.
“He was an all-conference tailback and played quarterback in junior high,” Hanson said. “We feel that he gives us the best chance to be productive on offense.”
Filling Brady’s shoes in the backfield will be 5-9, 211-pound running back Johnny Lampe. A fullback last season, Lampe only carried the ball 21 times but had a 5.9 yards-per-carry average.
The Pioneers are either young or inexperienced at wide receiver this season. West Greene lost five of its seven pass catchers from last year’s team. Senior Kevin Thompson, junior Billy Whitlatch and sophomore Patrick Durbin will get the starting nod.
“Kevin (Whitlatch) is probably the most skilled athlete in the school,” Hanson said. “He’s ambidextrous and can catch and throw. We need that athleticism on the field.”
West Greene has to address the same issues on defense, as well. The defensive line will be young. The Pioneers do return both safeties from last season in junior Seth Burns and Whitlatch. Whitlatch led the team in tackles last season with 66.
The Pioneers will be young at cornerback. There will be a battle between junior Cooper Chambers, sophomore Patrick Durbin and Thompson.
“I think playing cornerback is one of the biggest adjustments in varsity sports,” Hanson said. “They kind of get baptized by fire.
“They’re all-effort guys. Cooper got some height to him. Patrick is probably the most aggressive of all the corners, and Kevin is gonna be our guy in the nickel and dime packages.”
The strength of the West Greene 4-3 defensive scheme will be at linebacker.
Lampe and Brady will continue to fill the outside linebacker spots and 6-foot, 220-pound freshman Colin Whyte will step in at middle linebacker.
Lampe finished last season with 58 tackles
One of the keys to success this season is that the Pioneers need to stay healthy. West Greene does not have experienced depth behind its starters.
“We got to stay healthy,” Hanson said. “We got really young guys that are a ways away from helping us.”
Despite the youth and inexperience of this year’s team, Hanson said that winning begins and ends with the team playing for each other.
“The No. 1 thing is that we have to commit to each other to be a family,” he said. “We’ve got to really define ourselves by how tight we are as a family. I know we’re gonna take our lumps from time to time, but I like our chances against anyone we play.”
Coach: Brian Hanson
2021 record: 8-3 overall, 7-0 in Class A Tri-County South Conference
All-time record: 212-408-10
Date, Opponent, Time
8.26 Cameron (W.Va.), 7
9.2 Chartiers-Houston, 7
9.9 at Greensburg Central Catholic, 7
9.16 at Carmichaels*, 7
9.23 Bentworth*, 7
9.30 at Monessen*, 7
10.7 California*, 7
10.14 Beth-Center*, 7
10.21 at Jefferson-Morgan*, 7
10.28 Mapletown*, 7
Passing: Wesley Whipkey*
57-110, 1,097 yards, 16 TDs
Rushing: Colin Brady
157-1,444, 20 TDs
Receiving: Nathan Orndorf*
10-354, 5 TDs
William Whalen is a freelance writer.
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