(Statistical Information Courtesy of Professor Briggs' archives)
GREENVILLE TROJANS 2020 FOOTBALL SEASON PREVIEW
Head Coach: Brian Herrick, 14th year (92-57)
Last Year: 6-6 overall, advanced to District 10 semifinals
A well-worn adage in sports is that "champions are made in the offseason." If the Greenville Trojans ultimately compete for region and District 10 titles in 2020, the team's collective effort since the end of the 2019 campaign will no doubt be a major reason for that success.
"We were blessed to have number of kids who know how the program runs and stepped up and really took what I thought were outstanding leadership roles in everything that we did in the offseason," 14th-year head coach Brian Herrick said.
Strong offensive and defensive lines have defined Greenville football for decades and the 2020 Trojans will feature one of the area's most experienced group of linemen. On offense, senior Lane Fry returns at center while senior Griffin Richardson returns at guard. Greenville also welcomes back senior tackles Garrett Hillard and Brayden DiFrischia as starters.
DiFrischia, Fry and Richardson all earned Second Team All-Region last season. Junior Anthony Gentile, a regional qualifier in wrestling last winter at 220 pounds, looks to nail down the other starting spot at guard.
The defensive line features All-Region honorees Richardson and junior Cole Karpinski at defensive end and senior Ross Swartz back at tackle. Swartz joined Richardson and Karpinski on the All-Region Second Team in 2019. DiFrischia, Gentile and senior Bryce Stubert are battling for the other tackle spot.
"Our strength right now is up front," Herrick said. "We have a number of kids who have started for two years for us."
Graduation thinned Greenville's linebacking corps and secondary, however. Senior Rufus Byler returns as a starter at outside linebacker. Sophomore Garrett Potter and junior Preston Bowser are battling for the other outside linebacker spot. Fry is penciled in as the starting middle linebacker in the 4-3 alignment.
Senior Isaac Sasala returns at cornerback after earning All-Region recognition last season. Senior Caden Loutzenhiser returns at safety. Juniors Jalen Ritzert and Caleb Springer are vying for the other safety spot while sophomore Jase Herrick is the likely starter at corner, opposite Sasala.
Greenville also features a handful of starting vacancies on offense, most notably at quarterback. Ritzert and Jase Herrick are the top contenders in that derby, with Ritzert having the slight edge, according to Brian Herrick.
"We're starting a new quarterback and you'd always like to have a returning starter at that spot," Brian Herrick said. "Jalen is a good athlete who throws the ball really well. Jase does a good job of running the offense."
The player that ends up as the No. 2 quarterback will also likely see time at wide receiver. Coach Herrick noted that the Trojans plan to use more two- and three-receiver sets than in previous seasons. Byler, Loutzenhiser and sophomore Aden Sasala are the three likely regulars at receiver. Senior Landon Bielata will join Karpinski at tight end. Bielata missed 2019 due to injury.
Still, Greenville will not stray too far from the ground game as two seniors return at running back. Isaac Sasala ran for 550 yards and six touchdowns while Levi Swartz gained a team-leading 675 rushing yards last season. He also ran for six scores.
Byler returns as the punter after being selected First Team All-Region in 2019. Levi Swartz will handle kickoffs while sophomore Rasce Stefanowicz will kick extra points and field goals.
Greenville will play Farrell, Sharpsville and Wilmington in region play. "It's going to be a challenge," Brian Herrick said. "I'm not sure where Wilmington and Farrell are ranked entering the season, but I'm sure it's going to be pretty high in the state. With Coach Piccirilli down at Sharpsville, they're always in the mix and they are always tough.
"We're excited about the schedule," Herrick continued. "We're anxious to get going. At this point, we are happy that we are progressing and it looks like we are going to have a season."