Pictured above: Aaron Crossley
By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
PLYMOUTH – Two-way starters and first-team division all-stars Aaron Crossley, Joe Marranca and Ethan Speece return to lead the way, but they will be surrounded by less-experienced, and frequently younger, teammates as they try to keep the Wyoming Area football program on its current lofty perch.
The Warriors are seeking their fifth straight winning season. They are a combined 40-7 with three championship teams in the last four years, including the 2019 season that produced a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 3A state title.
By the time the playoffs roll around, Wyoming Area will be pressed into Class 4A competition, after the PIAA’s review of enrollment figures every two years, but the regular season looks much the same.
“Our schedule is going to be fairly consistent with what we’ve been facing,” Warriors coach Randy Spencer said. “ … When you look into the 4A classification in District 2, I think every coach at every level would agree that that’s the most competitive classification in our district.”
Wyoming Area, which won a WVC Class 3A Division title on the way to the district final last year, is part of Division 2 after the conference’s move from three to two divisions.
“We graduated around 24 or 25 with a lot of those guys going on to play at the next level,” Spencer said. “Certainly, there are some big shoes to fill there. We have some veteran players coming back, but we also have a big group of sophomores – talented young athletes and players – that are going to step up into some roles.”
The Warriors have a 51-player roster from which to seek new combinations.
“It’s just that we have a number of guys that need to grow into some roles and hopefully develop early in the season,” Spencer said.
Crossley is back at running back/inside linebacker. As a fullback last season, he was a first-team WVC Class 3A Division all-star choice by NEPAFootball.com, which also named him to the honorable mention list on defense.
Marranca is a two-way end, who made the all-star team on defense.
Speece is a guard/defensive tackle, who was honored on offense.
Crossley ran for more than 500 yards on a team that lost most of its offensive production to graduation. Crossley and Marranca each were among the team’s top four tacklers.
Speece could be joined at guard by Anthony VanAuken or Sam Rau.
Russell VanAuken, Luke Barhight and Jacob Krulick are possible centers while Jacob Gustitus, Jaden Jones and Chase DeSanto are in the mix at tackle.
Sophomores Damian Lefkoski and Brady Jones are working at quarterback. Lefkoski has some varsity experience, including in big-game situations.
Senior Keegan Rusyn, junior Nicky Scalzo, sophomore Matt Rutkoski and freshman Josh Mruk are working at fullback.
Marranca is joined at the tight end/H-back combination by Justin Francis, Riley Knaub and James Hyzinski.
Garret Pocceschi, Taden Jendrzewski, Gage Speece and Kevin Wiedl are at the slot receiver position while Dominic Colavito, Skyler Pierce, Ryan Jones and Jacob Morgan are possibilities at the other wide receiver position.
Speece returns at defensive tackle. He could be joined by either VanAuken, Gustitus, Rau, Chase DeSanto or Cody Meade.
Nick Scalzo, Jacob Krulick and Andrew Steinberger are candidates to play nose guard.
Marranca, who led the team in quarterback hurries and was third in sacks, returns at end. Knaub, Francis, Hyzinski and Pierce could also play there.
Keegan Rusyn, Rutkoski and Mruk are the possibilities to join Crossley as inside linebackers.
The secondary will be built primarily from a combination of young players.