Over the last few seasons, Midlothian has been slowly getting better, winning one or two more games each year. Last season, the Trojans finished with a 3-7 record, but managed to keep it close in several games, including two nail-biters against Manchester and Cosby.
The Trojans sent some key seniors to play at college, including playmakers Jermani Brown, who is at Boise State, and Joey Doherty Jr., who is at Salisbury University.
However, they didn’t just lose players, as coach Kevin Thomas stepped down. This year, the team’s offensive coordinator Matt Hutchings will be the new head coach, and he sees a lot of potential in them.
“We showed that we can compete with a lot of different teams,” Hutchings commented. “I think we opened some eyes last year.”
One of the Trojan’s main problems in 2016 was injuries, as several key players were injured throughout the season.
This year, if they can stay healthy, Hutchings believes his team can continue to improve and build on what the program has been doing the past few years.
Quarterback: Kyle Daniluk will be leading the team and playing for his third
season on Varsity. He was called up from JV mid-way through his sophomore year to start, and only played the first half of last season due to an injury. However, when he is healthy, he has shown flashes of greatness. Hutchings explained, “When he is healthy, we have a different mentality. He is a great leader and a very smart player. He threw for five touchdowns against Huguenot, and over 300 yards against Cosby. I hope we can continue to grow him as a quarterback.”
Running Backs:John Jennings and Mac Whitten will be getting the majority of carries this season. Jennings moved in late last season, but managed to fill in to the position and contribute. Hutchings described him as a down-hill, physical runner with a lot of power. Whitten will also be getting carries, and will also provide leadership to the team as a captain.
Wide Receivers:Hutchings believes the receiving corps is one of the team’s deepest positions. Seniors Kyle Webb and Casey Joyce will be their go to guys, and have both reveiced high praise from Hutchings. He called Webb one of the team’s overall best players and a great competitor, while he called Joyce, who is a four year starter on varsity, a smart player and a big deep ball threat. Will Pomeroy, Neil Richburg, Tyler Pace are all also expected to rotate in and be contributors.
Offensive Line: Midlo has had troubles in this area the past few seasons, as many of the starters were injured. The Trojans are looking to turn their luck on the line around, returning 4 starters this season, in Aiden Clevinger, Nick Prybyla, Nick Weber, and Nathan Brown. The final spot is yet to be decided.
Defensive Line:As they will be running a new defensive scheme, the defensive line will be fairly new. Hutchings says they will be moving guys around to see who fits what they are looking for, but expects big things from Tyler Moore, with his speed, and Noah Smith, with his strength.
Linebackers:Brayden Staib (6-3, 195) will be the centerpiece of the defense. “He makes the calls, he is knowledgeable, and he’s a physical kid. Just exactly what you want out of the middle linebacker position,” Hutchings explained. At outside linebacker, senior Omar Jackson is expected to step up in his new position, as he played defensive end in previous seasons. Pace, Whitten, Jennings, three guys who will play both ways, will also contribute and play at this position.
Defensive Backs: Webb and Joyce will be playing on both sides of the ball and be the starting safeties. Jacoby Martin will be substituting in when needed. Hutchings expected the cornerback position to be the hardest to replace after Doherty and Brown set the bar high last year. However, he said he was pleasantly surprised with players stepping up. Richburg and Pomeroy will be playing both ways and be their top two corners. Lundon Anderson and Ryan Townes will also be bringing athleticism and speed to the position.
Special Teams: Aaron Vardell will be taking the load this season and do everything for the Trojans. Hutchings praised Vardell’s work ethic, and called him one of the hardest working players on the team.