Avonworth ready for new season, tough new conference

By JIM RUMBLE

For the second straight year, three generations of Johncours will be expected to lead the Avonworth Antelopes football team as they embark on the 2018 season.

Senior quarterback Derek Johncour will lead the offense on the field with a full year of experience under his belt, while his father Duke Johncour begins his eighth season at the helm. What really makes the situation unique is that Barry Johncour, who coached his son Duke as a quarterback at Churchill several decades ago, has been with the team for some time as an assistant.

"It's exciting, three generations out there on the field," said Duke Johncour. "It's Derek's senior year and he's worked hard and had a great off season. Just to watch him and my dad as the quarterbacks coach - the dynamic is fun to watch, and it's enjoyable to be here."

Lining up behind Johncour in the backfield on offense will be running backs Jax Miller and Nick Weiser, while Jordan Rapp is expected to see some time there.

Wideout Turner Grau, a top notch player, will be the main target for Johncour in the passing game and Jacob Horigan will start as the slot receiver. Drew Harper, Etham Syam and Andy Tedesco are also expected to see time at that position.

The duties at center on offense will be handled by Partick Gannon and Kevin Felter, flanked by veteran Ryan Felter and Stephan Ezar at the guard positions.
Ryan Paskiewicz will handle the blocking assignments at right tackle and Josh Elm at left tackle.

Avonworth's defense switches between a 3-4 and a 4-3 set with Ryan Felter, Gannon, Ezar and Jude Casey handling most of the activity up front. Weiser, Miller and Jordan Rapp are expected to solidify the linebacker positions with Trevor Faulkner getting plenty of reps as well. Tedesco and Horigan will line up at the cornerback positions with Joshua Scheer added to the mix while Harper and Syam round out the defense at the safety positions.

The 'Lopes were 3-3 in conference play last year but still managed to make it in to the WPIAL playoffs and finish with a record of 4-6.

This year’s realignment has the Antelopes as a member of the Allegheny Conference along with Steel Valley, Apollo-Ridge, Shady Side Academy, East Allegheny, Valley and Summit Academy.

“It’s a tough conference,” said Johncour.“Along with our non conference games, we could potentially be playing six, seven or eight playoff teams.”

Johncour noted that his players are a year older, more experienced and that the team has a good bit of skilled players.

“We’re really excited to see what they’re capable of doing in space,” said Johncour.