At a relatively small school like Annville-Cleona, success in athletics – or the lack thereof – can often be attributed to simply the number of healthy bodies a team has at its disposal in a given season.

In other words, you gotta have numbers if you want to be competitive.

No one needs to tell anyone in the Annville-Cleona football program that. First under longtime head coach Terry Lehman and the last eight years with A-C alum Matt Gingrich guiding the program, very few local athletic programs have done more with less.

That’s because what it lacks in quantity, it always seems to make up for in quality.

For example, due to graduation losses, the Dutchmen said goodbye to 21 players from last season’s District 3 2A runner-up squad.

Such heavy graduation losses would be devastating to even much larger school districts. But A-C keeps rolling merrily along, shrugging off the almost annual depletion of its roster to again field a team capable of competing with just about any opponent on a given night.

Somehow, Gingrich and his staff were able to all but fill those vacant spots on the depth chart to again field a roster of nearly 40 players

“We lost 21 kids,” said Gingrich last week. “We were really worried about the numbers, but we’ll end up with 38, 39, 40, 41 kids. We did pick up a lot of kids. Numbers-wise we’ve rebounded nicely.”

“The biggest thing I would say is I feel we have some top-level talent for our size of school. The biggest concern would be the development of the backups, and the 15th, 16th and 17th player on offense. Because we just lost so many kids. There’s a lot of bright spots, but there’s gonna be a lot of depth issues.”

Among, the key departures lost to graduation were 2,000-yard rusher Phoenix Music and linebacker/slot Alex Long, who has taken his game to the college level at Robert Morris. A-C must also replace the cool- headed leadership of departed quarterback Gavin Keller.

Cam Connolly a senior, steps into Keller’s shoes to lead the offense, while senior Cael Harter will take on the responsibility of being the main ball carrier from Music. Junior Bryce Keller, meanwhile, leads a four-man battle for the starting fullback job, while another 11th-grader, Jon Shay, also a defensive standout, figures to grab the starting spot at wing back. Senior Darien Holloway lines up at tight end in A-C’s veer attack.

On the O-line, the center will be junior Preston Bomgardner, while Damien Miller and Alex Hemperly will man the guard spots, and Malacai Victa and Alec Tetzlaff handle the tackle duties, and Adam Kwiatkowski the tackle jobs.

Armani Santos,a junior offensive lineman and defensive lineman, hits the blocking sled during lineman drills last week. (Will Trostel)

Handling the receiving jobs will be Cash Watson, Dominic Cascotti and Jack Getty. Gavin Martens also is in the mix at receiver.

Aiden Blouch, junior wide receiver and defensive back, completes a route against Jack Getty during a recent practice at Annville-Cleona. (Will Trostel)

Defensively, A-C will line up with Victa and Miller at the tackles. Jackson Speece, a freshman, and Anthony Garner will also see time inside while Tim Montijo and Jon Shay, one of three returnees with over 100 tackles a season ago, hold down the end duties.

Holloway, another 100-tackle kid, will be the middle linebacker, while the outside jobs could go to Hemperly and Hudson Sellers and Jon Moran along with Ryan Barrientos.

Connolly and Wyatt Mace will be at safety and joined in the secondary by Harter, the third returning player with 100 tackles last season, and Cascotti at the corners. The place kicking duties will go to soccer player Mina Elzek.

“We do have the parts, we do have the pieces,” said Gingrich. “We’re really trying to find (what position) to put these kids to accentuate their positives.”

Whether or not the Dutchmen can get to the level required to compete for titles in Lancaster-Lebanon Section 5 and District 3 2A remains to be seen, but the effort and commitment to do so figures to be there once again. A-C will begin that quest Friday against Hanover.

“You make the district final and things change,” Gingrich said, only half-kidding. “The kids are like, ‘We gotta get back, we gotta get back.’ I said, ‘You don’t worry about that. You worry about getting better every day.'”

Annville-Cleona Dutchmen

Read all our coverage of the Dutchmen here.


Head Coach: Matt Gingrich

Assistant Coaches: Joe Heckard, Greg Keener, Joe Shay, Jon Bopp, Drew Speraw, Cody Dodson, Jonathan Lum, Mike Miller

Jersey NumberNameGradePosition
1Miles Riehl11WR/DB
2Cash Watson12WR/DB
3Carson Grow12WR/DB
4Cael Harter12RB/DB
6Noah Riehl10WR/DB
7Wyatt Mase10QB/DB
8Liam Pulaski12WR/DB
9Gavin Martens10WR/DB
10Jonas Cupak11WR/DB
11Bryce Keller11RB/DB
13Ryan Barrientos11RB/LB
14Jonathan Moran10RB/LB
16Cameron Connelly12QB/DB
17Kaeli Pennington11WR/DB
19Yamaliel Navarro9RB/DB
21Mina Elzek12K
22Aidan Blauch11WR/DB
24Hudson Sellers10RB/LB
31Dominic Casciotti11WR/DB
33Luke Wentling10RB/LB
35Jack Getty11WR/DB
36Ivan Kreider11TE/LB
41Jonathon Shay11RB/DL
44Levi Heckard10TE/DL
50Dan Bright-Walck10OL/DL
51Alex Hemperly11OL/LB
52Damien Miller12OL/DL
53Anthony Gardner12OL/DL
54Malacai Victa11OL/DL
55Travis Wilk10OL/DL
59Jordan Nickens10OL/DL
64Armani Santos10OL/DL
68Nathanael Sanchez10OL/DL
70Blake Meyer10OL/DL
72Alec Tetzlaff12OL/DL
75Carter Smith12OL/DL
76Preston Bomgardner11OL/DL
77Jaxon Speece9OL/DL
87Darrian Holloway12TE/LB
89Timothy Montijo12RB/DL
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Pat Huggins covered local sports for the Lebanon Daily News for almost 25 years, beginning in January of 1999. Pat was born and raised in Lebanon County and is a 1987 graduate of Lebanon High School and a 1991 alum of Elizabethtown College. A huge Phillies and 76ers fan, Pat spends his spare time on...


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