Being stuck in a Lancaster-Lebanon League section with a trio of gridiron monsters at the top makes for a laborious mountain to scale.
Cedar Crest head coach Rob Wildasin won’t pretend otherwise.
Wilson, Manheim Township, and defending section champ Hempfield compose the mountain. One, or even two, may inexplicably have down years, but the chances all three slip up at the same time are remote.
“You don’t bust through that bubble, you just don’t,” Wildasin, starting his 10th year at the helm, said. “Those schools are just much bigger than us. What you try to do is play spoiler, quite frankly. We concede nothing to any of them.
“And we’ve done that in years past. We’ve been in the mix. We finished second in the section two years ago. So our approach is, ‘If you take us lightly, that’ll be to your own detriment.’”
But while Falcons won’t head into the 2023 campaign as anyone’s choice to win L-L Section 1 coming off a 5-5 (2-4) season a year ago, Wildasin’s goal is for his squad to make enough noise on a weekly basis and, with some solid play and good fortune, grab a spot in the District 3 6A playoffs.
“I like how team-oriented we are, to date,” Wildasin said. “We have a good group of senior leaders that are team-first guys and I really enjoy that. They kind of pull people together and they’re not ‘me’ guys. They wanna win. … And on good teams, that’s what happens.
“We have to focus on us, and that’s what I repeat to them. If we do that, we’re going to be in the mix. We try to take a realistic approach. Are we gonna win every game? No. Almost nobody does. But to be competitive, be right there every game and to win games, those things are realistic. We wanna take the field and say, ‘We’ve got a real shot at winning this thing.’ And if we do that, we’re going to find ourselves in some football games that people might otherwise not think that we’d be in.”
The offense, still a Spread RPO, has a new full-time signal caller in junior quarterback Jackson Custer. Custer doesn’t take the keys a greenhorn, however. He was forced into service during the second half of last season after senior starter Jay Huber suffered a season-ending injury in week 5 at Wilson. So the staff has a fairly good idea of what he can do.
Alex Abreu and Fernando Marquez return as the feature backs. Owen Chernich is a top returning receiver, alongside Jack Waranavage and Leo Tirado. Malachi Victor may see some time. Aiden Schomp, an absolute beast at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, returns at tight end while drawing NCAA Division I offers.
Custer and backs will benefit from a senior-laden offensive line spearheaded by center Nick Lambros, and Cam Simone and Christian Weaber at guard and tackle, respectively.
“Everything starts up front with our offensive line,” Wildasin said. “Those guys have played a lot of football together and they’re kind of the heart and soul of our team.”
Defensively, the Falcons are a seasoned bunch. The base 4-3 look will feature Simone and Schomp at defensive end, with Weaber and Tristan Long manning the tackle spots.
Caleb Dorshimer and Victor return at outside linebacker, with Richie Hernandez in the middle.
Waranavage, Abreu, and Tirado hold down the secondary.
Cedar Crest Falcons
Head Coach: Rob Wildasin
Assistant Coaches: Nick Lambros, Brandon Kirsch, Brian Powers, Tom Gerhart, Shawn Rambler, Tom Waranavage, Logan Horn, Jona Padilla, Nevin Pagan, Bob Peebles, Bob Griffiths, Gary Wildasin
|1||Leo Tirado Jr.||12||WR/DB|
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