ELVERSON - When the Twin Valley High School football team takes the field tomorrow at Wyomissing to start their 2008 campaign, the team will have several new faces at key positions. But despite the annual ritual of position turnover, this Raiders team seems to be picking up the intensity of last year's squad.
The team will need that intensity after moving up to Section One in the Berk County league, especially since each week brings a challenging opponent.
"There are no easy games on this schedule," said Raider head coach Tom Wolf, who's in his first year with the program. "Every team will be a challenge and I don't see any stretches where we can relax."
On offense, the Raiders will return some key players at the skill positions. Zach Hunter and Mariano Cocco will share ball-carrying duties out of the backfield, and receiver Alan McCarthy returns to provide Twin Valley with a legitimate deep threat.
"We will strive to have balance between our running game and passing game," Wolf said. "[Hunter and Cocco are] very athletic, hard nosed players. Alan McCarthy is one of our wide outs who we have to get the ball to - he is a gamebreaker."
The Raiders' offensive line will be playing together for the first time this year and sophomore Josh Kurtz will be taking the reins at quarterback.
"Our offensive line will be brand new and they have worked extremely hard to develop into a cohesive unit," Wolf said. "Juniors John Hurst and Ben Gorgonzola have worked hard all offseason. [Kurtz] is only a sophomore, but has done a tremendous job learning the system and establishing himself as a leader. I think he is capable of accomplishing big things. The biggest challenge was adjusting to me as the new coach and learning a new offense, defense and special teams system. The players worked extremely hard this offseason and so far they have done a great job preparing for the season."
On defense, the Raiders will look to stay tenacious and hard-nosed, with a number of players who will be relied upon to fly to the football on each snap.
"Juniors Andrew Tamaccio and Eric Skiles will anchor the linebacking corps and provide leadership," Wolf said. "Greg Lambert and Ben Nelson will be counted on to disrupt opposing offenses. Randy Mieczkowski and Dan Myers will help to solidify the secondary."
Throughout the summer, Wolf has also worked to help create a pipeline of potential players by hosting a camp for younger players. The evidence of that camp's success, he says, can already be seen.
"We had a great youth camp this summer and I think that has carried forward to this season," Wolf said. "We have [more than 50 kids] kids on our middle school roster and I think that interest will continue and make a positive contribution to our overall program in the next several years."
The Raiders open their season tomorrow, Aug. 30, at Wyomissing at 1:30 p.m.