It’s a new start for the Fleetwood High School football team. The 2012 season will bring a new coach to the Tigers’ program, a new quarterback, along with a lot of other changes and new faces for the team.
It’s all part of an attempt for the small school to compete with the bigger schools in the Berks Football League. It’s not an easy task. The Tigers have won just two games in the last three seasons, going just 1-9 last year.
The 2011 season was one in which the Tigers were outscored in the first half of games, 244-88. They were minus 17 in the giveaway-takeaway category, including interceptions.
James Martinez has taken over as the new head coach at Fleetwood and he brings with him a lot of coaching experience. He was a defensive coordinator at Boyertown Area High School for four years, an offensive coordinator at Pottstown High for one year, was a head coach in Arizona and Montana for five years. He was also a college linebacker and defensive back coach for five years.
“We are wanting to be much more competitive than in the past,” said Coach Martinez. “We have worked hard this off season, but so have all of the other schools we will be playing this season. We’ve been working hard all off season and having them realize where they were, then to where we are now. We are not the same team.”
One of the differences will be at quarterback. Senior Steve Hilborn will take over the spot after playing as a wide receiver last year.
“He did very well last year as a wide receiver, but we felt it was in our best interest as a program to put him at quarterback and move some other players around as well,” said Martinez.
That includes Tyler Emge, who was also a wide receiver last year, bit is penciled in the A back position in 2012. “He’s young, but we feel he has an excellent upside,” said the coach.
Michael Allen will also be an A/slot back for the Tigers this year. He is a young back and according to Coach Martinez, is a “good mix up for Emge.”
Cody Wolf is also making a position change, but it should be a good change for him. Lasy year he played as a safety or defensive end for the Tigers, but this year he’ll be a middle linebacker. Martinez feels he’ll be much more comfortable there. On offense he will play at tight end.
Sam Cabrera will be back this year as a lineman, but he is coming back healthy. He was hurt much of the 2011 season but has put a lot of time in the weight room to get back to 100% for the start of the season. His addition will be a big plus for the line.
Morgan Shigo is another linemen the Fleetwood coaches are expecting a lot from this year. “He has good strength, but is unbelievably explosive and fast off the ball,” said Martinez.
Other players Martinez says to watch are: Zared Reichert, Thadius Cornick, Bryan Anderson, Shaq Cobb, Jacob Good, Antonio Goode and Zack Klapchar.
It’s hard to predict how a coaching change will affect a team in the first season. With a coaching change comes a whole new offense and defense, which results in a transition period for the team to learn the system and get to know what the new coach wants out of them. Martinez says that problem is already behind them.
“I think we’ve already gone through the transition period,” said Coach Martinez. “We’ve been working four days a week all summer long and they understand our coaching philosphy and coaches.”
Martinez knows that turning the program around will take some time. It’s tough for any small school to compete for a championship in a league with schools like Reading, Governor Mifflin, Pottsville or Muhlenberg.
He’s not expecting his team to win a title this year. The goal is to be competitive in each game. Hopefully, that will lead to a few more wins this year, then maybe even more next year. After that, anything can happen.