Seth Napierkowski experienced success and overcame challenges last season in his first year as coach of the Springdale Dynamos.
This year, however, he has to overcome replacing 17 seniors who graduated, a tall order for a coach at any level, let alone one as small as Springdale.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Napierkowski said. “We only have three or four seniors on the team this year. We’re going to be a very young team, but I think we’re going to be a very talented team. We have a good freshman class coming in, and some of those guys are going to (play right away).”
The Dynamos finished 5-6 overall and 4-3 in Class A Eastern Conference play last season, good enough for a playoff berth, but they lost in the first round against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
Replacing graduated running back Josh Harmon seems to be at the top of Napierkowski’s list. Harmon rushed for 967 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He was also the leading tackler.
Replacing Harmon with one player might not be an option, so Napierkowski is opting to go with a running back-by-committee approach.
Spearheading the effort is junior Christian Vokes, a receiver by trade who is making the move to running back. Vokes will be joined by junior Brandon Green and sophomore Cavin Kindler.
Senior quarterback Josh Jones is the only returning starter from last season who started every game on both offense and defense. Jones will be leaned on more to lead the offense and alleviate some of the pressure off some of the younger players to generate offense.
“He’s going to be looked upon to be the leader of our team this year,” Napierkowski said. “He’s not crazy vocal on the field, but he leads by example. He’s a guy that I think we’re going to rely upon to line up against the other team’s best receiver. Play some man-to-man against them and be a little more physical.”
Protecting Jones up front will be a cast of new players as Springdale graduated its entire offensive line last season.
Junior Justin Dvorsak is stepping in at one of the tackle positions.
The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Dvorsak is being counted on to lead the revamped group.
“In the Springdale tradition, he’s another beef eater,” Napierkowski said. “He hit it hard in the weight room this offseason. We are looking for big things from him.”
Junior tackle Blake Sgambodi will be counted on alongside Dvorsak. The versatile lineman can play center and guard. Senior Elijah Lang will man one of the guard positions. The other remaining offensive lineman spots are open to competition, according to Napierkowski.
On defense, Napierkowski is taking a different approach than last season.
“I think anytime you’re coaching, especially at the single-A level, you have to adapt to your players,” Napierkowski said. “You can’t really put a system in place and expect them to just roll with it. A lot of times you don’t have the athletes to do everything you want to do, and you have to be flexible with that. We’re going to do that this year. You’re going to see a few more hybrid guys on the field, kind of that outside linebacker, safety kind of build.”
Coach: Seth Napierkowski
2017 record: 5-6, 4-3
All-time record: 405-454-30
Date, Opponent, Time
9.1, at Imani Christian*, 1:30 p.m.
9.7, at Monessen, 7 p.m.
9.14, Bishop Canevin, 7 p.m.
9.21, at Jeannette*, 7 p.m.
9.28, Greensburg C.C.*, 7 p.m.
10.6, at Northgate, noon
10.12, Riverview*, 7 p.m.
10.19, at Clairton*, 7 p.m.
10.26, Leechburg*, 7 p.m.
*Class A Eastern Conference game
Passing: Josh Jones
33-91, 654 yards, 8 TDs
Rushing: Josh Harmon*
150-967 yards, 13 TDs
Receiver: Devin Wilks*
8-242 yards, 1 TD