Coach: Bob Abbey, third year, 10-20
Last Year: 7-3 (4-2, SLL)
Forecast: The Flyers are poised for a big season on their new field if they can fill some key holes on both lines and at wide receiver.
The team lost eight seniors overall, and have ten seniors on the roster this year, including their starting quarterback, Alan Martinez, and starting fullback, Carl Brown.
Their backfield should look strong when you add in returning junior Josh Tantari at running back. However, head coach Bob Abbey reverts back to filling the holes on the line as the key.
“We have some good experience (in the backfield), although our running backs are only as good as the offensive line blocking them,” he said.
Last year, Tantari gained 676 yards on 136 carries, good for five yards per carry, and he scored five touchdowns rushing. Zach Sharpe also returns on the offensive line and at linebacker, but running with the football last year he gained 156 yards on 21 carries, good for a solid 7.4 yards per carry, plus Sharpe scored one TD. On defense, Tantari had three interceptions last year.
At quarterback, Alan Martinez returns after completing 42-of-97 passes (43.3 percent) for 661 yards and two touchdowns. Martinez also ran for 660 yards on 242 carries, good for 4.6 yards per carry, and scored 10 touchdowns and added two conversion scores. Martinez and Tantari earned spots on last year's Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press honorable offense team.
Overall, the Flyers lost five of their six starters on the offensive line (Brandon Tantari, Ryan Hotmer, Kyle Lee, Alex Stefan and Jake Pack) and two of their starters on the defensive line. Linebacker Ben Sample was also lost to graduation.
One of the key losses on the line was a two way starter, Tantari. He was an all-district player and a first-team All-SLL pick on offense and defense last year. Abbey said Tantari will be missed.
“I don’t think he’s someone that can be replaced,” Abbey said. “We’re rotating kids through to see who’s capable.”
In addition to those losses, the Flyers lost their top two receivers when Terry Tomanski and Greg Grove both graduated.
“Their stats weren’t real good last year, but they did a fantastic job blocking for our running game,” Abbey said of his two departing senior wide receivers.
With those two gone, Abbey will be looking to junior defensive backs Ryan Kohlhofer and Kurt McKee to fill the void.
“They’re inexperienced as far as Friday night time,” Abbey said. “They’re coming along alright, though.”
Nathan Pennington returns at defensive back after earning All-Press honors at free safety last year.
This will be Abbey’s fourth season at the helm for the Flyers. After winning three games in his first two seasons combined, the team won seven games last season. They look to improve that this season on their new turf field.
“We just got on (the field) this week, so we’re still getting used to it,” Abbey said. “It’s a heck of a facility and we’re grateful for what we have.”
The team also has some new equipment donated by the Cleveland Browns this season. In addition to the donation, the Browns hosted the Flyer football team during their preseason game vs the Rams on Aug. 21.
The team had the chance to tour the facility, be down on the field during warm-ups, and hold the flag during the national anthem.
The Flyers will open their own season on the road against Swanton Aug. 27 before playing their first game on their new home surface the following week against Northwood.