General McLane Lancers
Coach (season, record): Jim Wells (16th season, 133-36)
2011 overall record: 10-3
2011 region record (place): 5-1 (second)
2011 playoff results: Defeated Greenville 54-32 in the District 10 Class AA quarterfinals and Wilmington 21-18 in the semifinals. Lost to Hickory 35-13 in the District 10 Class AA championship.
Top players lost: Chad Kulka, Josh Ponsoll, Drew Browning, Ethan Strobel, Jamie Symanowski, Brian Suminski, Matt Astorino, Joey Gierlak, Jake Krimmanich
Top returning players: Quinn Thompson, Zack Leicht, Tyler Hendricks, Aidan Graham, Marcus Erdman
Outlook: General McLane coach Jim Wells has dealt with massive graduation losses before but this season could be a tough one. The Lancers were hammered by graduation and might go through some real growing pains this season. Among the players lost are all-region selections Chad Kulka, Josh Ponsoll, Drew Browning, Ethan Strobel, Jamie Symanowski, Brian Suminski, Matt Astorino, Joey Gierlak and Jake Krimmanich. Kulka was named to the all-district team at linebacker and was a leader for McLane. He led the Lancers with 67 tackles, had one sack and one interception. Kulka also ran for 716 yards and 11 touchdowns on 104 carries and he had three catches for nine yards. Ponsoll was another leader throughout his career for the Lancers. Ponsoll, a first-team quarterback and second-team defensive back, threw for 603 yards and six touchdowns and ran the ball 150 times for 860 yards and eight TDs. On the line, Browning was a first-team offensive lineman, Strobel was a first-team offensive lineman and second-team defensive lineman, while Krimmanich was a second-team offensive lineman and Symanowski was a first-team defensive lineman. Also gone is Suminski, a first-team linebacker, Astorino a first-team defensive back and second-team all-purpose selection. Astorino ran for 996 yards and 12 touchdowns on 91 carries and caught eight passes foir 158 yards and one touchdown. Suminski contributed with 810 yards and 13 touchdowns on 137 carries. Gierlak, a second-team wide receiver, caught 11 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns.
McLane does have some experience back this fall. Division I prospect Quinn Thompson was voted to the all-region first team at linebacker last fall and the second team as a tight end. His size, 6 feet 5 inches, 225 pounds, is a big draw for colleges and has translated to offers from major schools like Boston College and Connecticut. Thompson played some quarterback at the lower levels but will likely stay on the line to block this fall. The Lancers could look to Marcus Erdman, a second-team defensive back, to take over at quarterback. Erdman threw for 112 yards and one touchdown as a junior. He also ran for 66 yards and two touchdowns and could be called upon to take over at running back instead. Zack Leicht, a second-team offensive lineman, is back to anchor a young line, while second-team linebacker Tyler Hendricks returns along with second-team defensive back Aidan Graham. Graham (212 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Hendricks (117, 1) also saw time in the backfield as juniors and could see a noticeable increase in carries.
McLane went through a rough started in 2011. The Lancers were 0-2 and were staring 0-3 down before a monumental second-half comeback against Harbor Creek. McLane might go through the same issues this fall with a road game in Waterford to start the season before its home opener against Class AAAA McDowell. The McDowell game could get interesting as the Trojans and Lancers are similar teams in their offensive and defensive approaches. In fact, McDowell coach Mark Soboleski used to coach with Wells. The jump to Class AAA will be tough for McLane, especially its move to Region 6. The Lancers only have one region game in the first half of the season with their playoff life on the line in the second half. A key second-half game could be the regular-season finale against Cathedral Prep. If McLane pulls it together this season, that Week 10 game could be a playoff preview.
31 at Fort LeBoeuf 7
7 McDowell* 7
14 Oil City 7
21 at Franklin 7
5 East* 7
12 Bradford 7
19 at Strong Vincent* 7
25 at Central Tech* 7
2 Cathedral Prep* 7
*Region 6 games
– Tom Reisenweber