Line paving theway for Phantoms in ’17
Phoenixville’s Matt Garcia departed the purple and chrome as the all-time single season rushing yards leader in Phantom history. He finished with 1,820 yards and 17 touchdowns and many, many high fives with his big guys up front.
He’s gone, but four out of the five linemen remain, and they’re ready to carry the team on their backs.
Jon Miller (Mercury-All-Area FirstTeam selection) and Sean Sabo return to a veteran offensive line that is looking to lead the charge for Phoenixville, as the Phantoms look to bounce back from a disappointing 3-7 season in 2016.
“We’re building around our line. There’s no doubt about it,” Phoenixville head coach Evan Breisblatt said. “They did a fantastic job last season and with four out of the five starters back, we feel pretty confident that we should be able to control the game up front.”
With Garcia’s success in the backfield, it was no shock that Phoenixville finished third in the Pioneer Athletic Conference in rushing (171.6 yards per game). It was a token of merit for Miller, Sabo and the others, who aimed at having a 1,000 rusher in their backfield at the start of last season. And now, with the departures of Garcia, quarterback Troy Rossman, tight end Durron Johnson and wide receiver Nasir Green, the line will be looked upon to come through when needed themost, especially in closing out tight contests.
“We were in two games that were decided by eight points or less and in nearly every game we were winning,” Breisblatt said. “I think with the experience of the offensive and defensive line, we should be able to learn how to close things out or win some close games.”
Defensively, Breisblatt and the coaching staff are looking to shore up their weakness — cut backs and poor tackling.
“We’ve changed our philosophy on defense to focus on tackling andour leverage,” Breisblatt said. “We feel like we got cut back on toomany times last season so we’re going to be an inside leverage team this year. I think that’s going to help us. We’ll have a set of new linebackers and with Dorian (County) and Bobby (Strunk) back there in the secondary, we’re hoping they can solidify the defensive backfield.
“We’re always going to come after people and switch things up, we do a nice job scheming but tackling is a big thing that we need to get better at.”
Camp Odds and Ends
Alex Washington and Travis Panella will likely split carries in trying to replace Garcia, who is attending the University of Mount Union. Connor Patania will be the team’s starting quarter back while Jordan Ford, Strunk and County have impresse dont he defensive side of the ball in the early practices.
Looking on Up
Phoenixville faces an uphill climb in the PAC Frontier Division as Pottsgrove and Upper Perkiomen enter 2017 with a slew of their starters returning from last season. “Weknow what Pottsgrove is going to do, we know what Upper Perkiomen is going to do and they know what we’re going to do,” Breisblatt said. “We need to be battle-tested up front. We know they’re fully loaded again. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us.” We’ve worked to get ourselves to get to this point where we think we can contend.”
Phoenixville’s Matt Garcia breaks up the middle as lineman Jon Miller (79) and Sean Sabo (57) trail behind. The Phantoms’ offensive line wanted to produce a 1,000yard rusher last season and did just so. Now, with a bevy of skill position players graduated, head coach Evan Breisblatt is building his offense around the veteran group.