General McLane Lancers
Coach (season, record): Jim Wells (15th season, 123-33)
2010 overall record: 10-2
2010 region record (place): 6-0 (champion)
2010 playoff results: Lost 29-28 to Hickory in the District 10 Class AA semifinals.
Top players lost: Kyle Shinn, Derek Schultz, Alan Buckel, Josh Niswonger, Travis Bryant, Zach Lucas
Top returning players: Josh Ponsoll, Chad Kulka, Matt Astorino, Quinn Thompson, Jacob Krizmanich, Drew Browning, Brian Suminski
Assistant coaches: Luke Graham, Brad Wheeler, Bill Frick, Tim Campbell, Tim Casey, Elliott Laplaka
Outlook: General McLane’s program is one of the strongest in District 10 and looks to win another region title this fall. The Lancers lost several offensive weapons to graduation, including speedy running back Kyle Shinn and wide receiver Josh Niswonger. Shinn, an all-region all-purpose back, ran for 833 yards on 46 carries and 11 touchdowns, while Niswonger was a first team selection as a wide receiver and defensive back. Niswonger led the Lancers in 2010 with 12 catches for 374 yards and five touchdowns, while Shinn had six catches for 156 yards and one TD. McLane also lost three key linemen in Travis Bryant, Alan Buckel and Derek Schultz. Bryant was the Lancers’ fourth-leading tackler with 63 tackles, while Schultz had 60 and Shinn recorded 49. Zach Lucas, who also graduated, led McLane with 99 tackles.
Despite McLane losing several leaders and standout players, the Lancers have a solid core back. Josh Ponsoll, an all-region quarterback and defensive back, completed 31-of-58 passes for 884 yards and 11 touchdowns, while rushing for 683 yards and seven TDs. Ponsoll has emerged as a standout in several sports over the past few years and is a big plus for the Lancers. He is joined in the backfield by Matt Astorino and Chad Kulka. Astorino was McLane’s second-leading rusher last year with 709 yards and seven touchdowns, while Kulka carried the ball 98 times for 584 yards and nine TDs.
All three have received collegiate interest as well as up-and-coming junior Quinn Thompson, an all-region tight end and defensive lineman. Thompson caught six passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore and is an imposing force on defense at 6 feet, 5 inches.
Brian Suminski started to come on strong last season and could see more carries after rushing for 442 yards on 73 carries and seven touchdowns last year. He will look for holes in the line opened up by returning linemen Jacob Krizmanich and Drew Browning. David Olszewski, McLane’s long-time kicker, has graduated but soccer player Kirk Dillen is in line to replace him after kick six extra points last year.
The Lancers, once again, have a solid non-region schedule filled with three Class AAA teams and Class AAAA Strong Vincent. McLane opens with two tough home games against Vincent and North East before an interesting four-game road trip later in the season featuring Bradford, Meadville and Fairview. Usually regions aren’t decided early in the season, but the Lancers’ Week 2 date with North East could determine the Region 4 champion.
2 Strong Vincent 7
9 North East* 7
16 at Harbor Creek* 7
23 Seneca* 7
30 at Northwestern* 7
7 at Bradford 7
14 at Meadville 7
21 at Fairview* 7
28 Girard* 7
4 Franklin 7
– Tom Reisenweber