HARROD – It’s Year 5 for Mike Abbey, who has built a very successful wrestling program at Allen East.
So far, the football development hasn’t gone as well as wrestling. Abbey has compiled a 10-33 record, including 3-7 last year.
“It hasn’t come as we thought,” Abbey said. “We just keep plugging along, and we’re getting better. … We’re not all the way there.
“We’re not as physical as we want to be. But they’ve really bought into the weight lifting and the offseason workouts. We are stronger, pound for pound, than we have ever been. We are more athletic than we have ever been. …. But we have to be much more physical.”
Abbey did bring back former Allen East coach Cam Staley as the team’s defensive coordinator.
“Immediately, we (the defense) have an identity,” Abbey said. “He’s a 3-5 (defense) guy, we’re in a three-man front, blitzing and coming off the edges.”
The offense returns six starters, while the defense has eight starters back.
On offense, the line will have veterans guard Logan Emerick and center Austin Louth.
Also back are wide receivers Luke Perkins and Blake Stevens, who will also see time at tight end.
The Wing-T offense will be keyed by second team all-Northwest Conference fullback Logan Schick, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior. Schick ran for 1,048 yards with 11 TDs last year.
Also back is junior halfback Caleb Smelcer, who ran for 565 yards with 10 TDs.
The other running back will be sophomore speedster Kyle Nickles.
Spencer Miller, a 6-foot, 175-pound junior, moves from halfback to quarterback. Miller ran for 604 yards last year.
“He’s one of our best athletes in the school,” Abbey said of Miller. “He’s only 6-foot but can dunk a basketball. … We’re going to try to have a little fun with him back there and utilize his athletic abilities.”
On defense, linebacker will be a strength with veterans Brent Wilson, Schick and Emerick.
The line returns Johnny Brinkman, Jesse Erevia and Travis Goodin. The secondary will have experience with Perkins and Austin Tafe.
“The last few years, we’ve been scoring some points, but we just haven’t been able to keep people out of the end zone,” Abbey said. “We’ve been scoring 30-some points per game but have been giving up 30-some points a game. Defensively, we have to become much better.”
Reach Tom Usher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Lima_Usher.