Trojan Football

TROJAN FOOTBALL

12/16/2018
2018 Football All-Stars
Steve Bennett  - Citizens Voice
Joe Ammons

Joe Ammons

School: Nanticoke Area

Year: Senior

Position: Running back/Defensive line

Height/Weight: 6-1/200

Highlight: Finished the year as the regular season rushing leader in the WVC with 1,411 yards. Including the Eastern Conference championship game, Ammons totaled 1,470 yards, good for third overall. Averaged 7.4 yards per carry and rushed for 15 touchdowns. Intercepted one pass and returned it for a touchdown.

CONGRATULATIONS TO EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION TROJANS!


11/5/2018
Monday Morning Quarterback: Nanticoke Area made the right call
STEVE BENNETT – Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area took a little bit of heat when it opted out of the district playoffs and elected to go to the Eastern Conference tournament.

At the time of the decision, the Trojans were guaranteed a spot in the district playoffs, but still had to win games down the stretch just to get into the Eastern Conference.

It was a gutsy call, but after seeing the results of the first weekend of the postseason, it was the right call. Nanticoke Area did what was best for its program.

Had the Trojans stuck with the district playoffs, they would have had to travel to Dallas on the opening night. Dallas had already defeated Nanticoke Area during the regular season, 35-0. Instead, Honesdale locked up the seventh seed and went to Dallas and lost 23-16. It was the third-closest game of the opening week of the district playoffs. The others were Lakeland’s 6-3 overtime win over Lake-Lehman and West Scranton’s four-point win over North Pocono.

When the state went to six classes, it was with the intention of giving more teams an opportunity to play for a championship. But the opportunity really isn’t there. Football is not like basketball or baseball where two basketball players can carry a team, or a shutdown starter can give a baseball team a chance.

In football, you need all 11 players clicking on all cylinders.

Look at the Class 2A playoffs: Dunmore won its game 55-8; Susquehanna went on the road and won 34-0. In 3A, Scranton Prep won by 35 points and Western Wayne and Wyoming Area each won by 44 points. In 4A, Berwick won by 42, while top seed Valley View won by 31.

But before you look to begin pointing blame at District 2, realize this: The state gives each district the number of weeks it takes to determine a district champ.

11/3/2018
Trojans Claim Eastern Conference Title

Luke Kropp - Citizens Voice

Mudbowl

Friday’s rain made it difficult to control the ball on Nanticoke Area’s natural grass field.

But, it also made for a messy celebration.

After Colby Butcynski kneeled out the final minute, the Trojans sprinted and slid headfirst into the home sideline in a pool of mud. Nanticoke Area struck early and held on to win the Class 4A Eastern Conference Championship over Hamburg, 14-6, in a contest riddled with turnovers.

“Muddiest game I’ve ever coached in, ever played in, anything,” Trojan head coach Ron Bruza said. “This is one these kids from Hamburg and (Nanticoke) are going to remember for the rest of their lives.”

The teams combined for eight lost fumbles and just 128 total yards as it seemed nearly impossible to hold onto the football, and mishandled snaps were a factor in several turnovers and lost opportunities.

“It’s certainly a game they’ll never forget in terms of playing in these conditions,” Hamburg head coach Chuck Kutz said. “A lot of ups and downs, a lot of balls on the ground, you can’t get any consistency, and once you get behind and they can pin their ears back and keep bringing everybody in the trenches, it became a difficult situation as the rain continued to fall and the field continued to get muddier.”

Darren Boseman set up the Trojans in good field position with a 57-yard punt return early on. Four plays later, Joe Ammons busted through the Hamburg defense to score the game’s only offensive touchdown on a four-yard carry.

Hamburg’s (4-7) ensuing drive looked promising as Shaheed Warren and Brendan Hamilton pounded the ball into the red zone. The Hawks came up empty on offense, however, losing a fumbled snap inside the five.

Hamburg’s defense had other plans, and when the Trojans fumbled a snap of their own, David Hummel jumped on the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

The next eight drives netted a combined -4 yards, and Nanticoke Area headed into halftime with an 8-6 lead.

“Tough running across the board,” Kutz said. “It was a tough night to get anything going.”

More of the same offensive struggles persisted in the third quarter. But, early in the final period, Hamburg had its chance to take the lead.

Nicholas Saul set up for a 26-yard field goal to put Hamburg ahead by one, but the snap slipped through his holder’s hands, and the Hawks came up empty inside the red zone again.

With time running out for the Hamburg, Ammons put the game away with a five-yard interception return late in the fourth quarter.

Ammons scored all 14 of Nanticoke Area’s points and rushed for a hard-earned 59 yards in the final game of his career to bring his season total to 1,470.

“I’m proud of these guys,” Bruza said. “We fought through a long season. Moving up to a higher classification, doing what’s best for the community, these guys battled through a lot.”

Warren led the Hawks with 69 yards rushing followed by Hamilton’s 21.

11/3/2018
Muddy conditions can’t stop Nanticoke Area from claiming Eastern Conference title
dstokes@timesleader.com

Heavy rain, fog and muddy conditions wouldn’t stop the Nanticoke Area Trojans from capturing the Eastern Conference 4A championship in a 14-6 victory over the Hamburg Area Hawks.

“I’m proud of these guys,” said Nanticoke Area head coach Ron Bruza. “It was a long season. This game was the muddiest game I’ve ever played in or coached in. Our kids and Hamburg are going to remember this game for the rest of their lives.”

After Hamburg (4-7) elected to receive on the coin toss, the Hawks had a quick three-and-out, punting the ball to Keanu Ammons. He returned the ball 53 yards to Hamburg’s 23-yard line.

Nanticoke (6-5) was able to capitalize on the excellent field position in just four plays. Senior running back Joe Ammons rushed for 4-yard score. He then ran the ball in the back of the end zone to complete the two-point conversion and extend the Trojans lead 8-0.

The Trojans started the second quarter with the ball on their own 2-yard line. Quarterback Colby Butczynski fumbled and Hamburg defensive tackle David Hummel recovered it for the score.

But the Hawks were unable to convert on the two-point conversion leaving the score at 8-6 in favor of Nanticoke.

Butczynski’s fumble started off a chain reaction. Both teams fumbled a combined 10 times at the half, with the horrible conditions played a major factor in the slippery football.

At the start of the second half, the field was almost entirely covered by mud.

Nanticoke and Hamburg traded defensive blows in the third quarter, but neither team was able to muster up any serious offense, leaving both teams locked in an 8-6 stalemate heading into the final 12 minutes.

Hamburg threatened to take the lead at the start of the fourth quarter. The Hawks were poised to kick a 26-yard field goal, however, the rainy and muddy conditions took matters into their own hands.

When the holder called for the ball, he had a hard time settling it down, thus the ball started fumbling around. Nanticoke defenders leaped on the ball and took possession.

But with both offenses stalling, the Trojans caught a huge break.

After Butczynski booted a punt that landed on Hamburg’s two-yard line, Joe Ammons solidified his spot as the game’s hero.

He intercepted Hawks quarterback Patrick Hanlon at the nine-yard line and ran it back for the touchdown, providing the Trojans with a 14-6 lead with 2:20 left to play.

“I actually thought it was one of Hamburg’s guys running the ball out,” Bruza laughed. “I really couldn’t tell Joe (Ammons) intercepted the ball. That’s how muddy it was here tonight.”

Coach Bruza doubled down on his decision to opt out of playing in the District 2-4A playoffs after the game.

“I think we did make the right choice,” he said. “I think our guys were really happy about it. We played a competitive football game and the fans got their money’s worth tonight.”

10/27/2018
Trojans beat Hanover Area in Sans Souci Struggle
Luke Kropp - Citizens Voice

At least half of the new nickname of the historic rivalry was accurate, because the Trojans breezed past the Hawkeyes to claim the trophy in the inaugural Sans Souci Struggle.

Joe Ammons led Nanticoke Area with 184 rushing yards and four touchdowns as the Trojans defeated Hanover Area, 43-10, Friday night.

“It’s great,” Ammons said about capturing the trophy. “It’s something to hold on to because it’s my senior year, but it’s just really exciting.”

The Wyoming Valley Conference’s leading rusher contributed on multiple stops on defense before his offensive explosion began. Ammons finishes the regular season with 1,411 yards on the ground.

It was the junior Darren Boseman who opened the scoring on Senior Night, however, as he found a lane and streaked down the sideline for an 80-yard punt return.

Hanover Area (3-7) responded after forcing a turnover on downs. The Hawkeyes knocked on the door of the red zone, and Auggie George capped the drive with a 36-yard field goal.

That proved to be Hanover Area’s only score until the fourth quarter, and that momentum was short lived. Ammons busted a 75-yard touchdown run on the next play and bullied in another one-yard score on the Trojans’ following possession.

“Joe’s our workhorse,” Nanticoke Area head coach Ron Bruza said. “It’s nice we finally got him up and going. Once he gets going, he’s a good football player.”

While Hanover Area was on the wrong side of every lucky bounce, Nanticoke Area (5-5) capitalized.

A tipped pass landed in Keanu Ammons’ arms, and the junior showed off his speed and agility on the way to a 61-yard interception return for a touchdown. Boseman thwarted the Hawkeyes’ ensuing drive picking off Aaron Hummer again off another deflection.

Soon after the turnover, tempers flared and the Hawkeyes were handed two personal fouls on one play, setting up Joe Ammons for a quick three-yard touchdown.

“Both teams were amped up,” Bruza said. “Hanover did a great job, but once we settled in and played football we did pretty well tonight.”

Joe Ammons put the game away on his fourth touchdown of the night, an eight-yard toss to cap the second half’s opening drive and give the Trojans a 40-point lead.

Hanover Area found the endzone midway through the fourth quarter as Joseph Curcio took a direct snap and broke a 60-yard touchdown run. Curcio led the Hawkeyes in rushing with 84 yards while Aaron Hummer passed for 88.

After opting out of the District 2 Class 4A playoffs, Nanticoke Area looks ahead to the Eastern Conference championship while the Hawkeyes secured a berth to the District 2 Class 3A tournament.

“These guys are excited,” Bruza said. “They get an extra week to play, and they’re actually playing for something.”

10/27/2018
Nanticoke Area rout Hanover Area in Sans Souci Struggle
Jay Monahan - Times Leader

Perhaps, one day the Sans Souci Struggle might live up to, say, the Meyers-GAR Backyard Brawl or other Wyoming Valley Conference rivalries in terms of allure.

Perhaps, one day, the hokeyness of it all — whether it be the campy name or the hideously, outstandingly tall trophy — might wear off.

Even if it does live eventually up to its hype, the first installment of the Sans Souci Struggle was hardly worth remembering.

Nanticoke Area quickly dispelled Hanover Area 43-10 Friday night.

“It was a great atmosphere — both teams were amped up,” Nanticoke coach Ron Bruza said. “Hanover Area did a great job of throwing some fits early on. Once we settled in, we did pretty well today.”

Having opted out of the District 2 playoffs, Nanticoke Area will host the Eastern Conference Class 4A championship against an opponent to be determined. Hanover Area will play in the District 2 Class 3A playoffs as a No. 7 seed against Wyoming Area next week.

“These guys are excited,” Bruza said. “We get an extra week to play. We actually get to play for something.”

The Trojans used several big plays and staunch secondary play to post 36 first half points.

Darren Bosman ignited the Trojans with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown with 6:22 left in the first half.

Hanover Area was hoping for a heated rivalry game with early points on the board. Following a 27-yard pass from Aaron Hummer, the Hawkeyes cut it to a 7-3 game on a booming 36-yard Auggie George field goal that would have been good from at least 45 yards.

The Hawkeyes’ threat was short-lived. Nanticoke returned the kickoff 75 yards into the end zone. After a penalty called the play back to the Trojans 25, Joe Ammons broke through the middle unscathed for a 75-yard touchdown run to take a 15-7 lead with 57 seconds left in the first quarter.

Ammons had a career performance with 203 yards on 16 carries and four rushing touchdowns. He had touchdown runs of 1, 2, 7, and 75 yards.

“Joe just did well,” Bruza said. “We scored in every aspect of the game. Joe is our work horse. It’s nice that we got him up there and going. Early in the season, it took him a little while to get started. Once he gets going, he’s a good football player.”

Nanticoke received a bit of luck on a fluke play and good positioning from Keanu Ammons. A pass that was tapped back 10 yard by a Hanover Area wide receiver was intercepted for a 61-yard touchdown to go ahead 29-3 with 6:44 left in the second quarter.

Hanover Area’s Joe Curcio ran for a 60-yard touchdown in the late stages of the game. Curcio finished with 83 yards on seven carries.


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9/28/2018
Mid-Season Report
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice


NANTICOKE AREA (2-3)

The jump from Class 3A to 4A for the Trojans this year was expected to be a challenge. And for the most part, the Trojans have adapted well. They have wins over Tunkhannock and Coughlin, while losing to Pittston Area by seven, as well as a pair of 35-7 losses to Wyoming Area and Western Wayne. Four of the five games in the second half of the year are manageable provided the Trojans can play well. They have scored 21 points in their last three games while allowing 76. The Trojans find themselves as the No. 7 seed in the eight-team Class 4A field, and can take a step in the right direction with a win over Crestwood this weekend. The Trojans are averaging 270.6 yards per game, while the defense is giving up 299 per game. The Trojans did start the year with some youth on the offensive line. The group is continuing to grow up as the season progresses and will be a much better group at the end of the year than it was when it started.

9/14/2018
Joe, Keanu Ammons help bring balanced playmaking to Nanticoke Area
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:09:10 03:18:16

(DAVE SCHERBENCO / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)Nanticoke Area’s Joe and Keanu Ammons

Their personalities could not fit the positions they play on the football field any better. Keanu Ammons, the flashy junior wide receiver, is quick with a smile or a joke and is incredibly descriptive when talking about what he does on the field.

His older brother, Joe, a running back and defensive end, is quite the opposite. Befitting of a player who does all the dirty work, Joe is quiet and more reserved. It takes a little bit longer to get a smile out of him. It is easy to realize he is all business.

His primary responsibility is carrying the ball, picking up yards after contact and constantly being blocked as he attempts to crash through the line of scrimmage or attack a running back trying to hit the edge.

But one thing they both share, besides a last name, is the fact that their 2017 season took a bit longer to get started than they anticipated.

Keanu missed four games because of a broken thumb. Joe got his chance when injuries took a big chunk out of Nanticoke Area’s depth chart. However, once both were able to get on the field, the impact they had on the team was noticeable right from the start.

“I was out for four games, but once I got back at it, my first game against Northwest, 87-yard kick return for a touchdown,” Keanu said. “From there, I just started making a bigger impact.”

It took Joe a bit longer to make his presence felt.

Once injuries began to take its toll on the Nanticoke Area backfield, it became next-man-up mentality. That next man was Joe. He carried the ball in six games, rushed for 537 yards and six touchdowns. He also averaged 10.5 yard per carry.

“I didn’t think I would be playing halfback last year,” Joe admitted. “After Eric Jeffries got injured, coach (Ron Bruza) put me in there and told me it would be a good fit for me. This year, I just came and continued to do the same things I was doing last year.”

And for the both of them this year, it has been so far, so good. The playmaking abilities have carried over, and it is a big reason why the Trojans are 2-1 heading into tonight’s key mathcup at Wyoming Area.

Joe is leading the team in rushing with 345 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Keanu has rushed for 59 yards and a score. Keanu is also averaging 27.8 yards per catch and has returned one punt 64 yards for a touchdown.

“I’m just back there trying to do the best I can,” Keanu said. “Just want to get us the best field position I can. I just catch it and go from there. I look for the first guy coming down the field. Then I look for Darren (Boseman), the other return man back there with me. Last year, they used to kick to me all the time. If they do kick to me, I’m not going to lie, I’m looking to take it to the house. It’s the best feeling in the world when you see the end zone. Just another blessing.”

In a way, Keanu takes his role on special teams and offense as a challenge. Boseman is capable of making big plays of his own on special teams, and is slotted in as the team’s primary receiver. So when Keanu gets his opportunities, he plays with the idea that he has to make something happen. Plus, there is the fact the Trojans are a team that is usually run-oriented.

Joe feels the same way. With the offensive line being a question mark coming into the season, he felt it would take a while for the unit to become a cohesive one. After three games, the line has come together quicker than anticipated. That has made Joe’s job a bit easier when it comes to hearing his number called in the huddle.

“Our offensive line is young, but they are getting better as we go along,” Joe said. “I think they have played great. They want to get better. They work really hard.”

Aside from what is thrown at them from the football perspective within their own program, there was the challenge of moving up from Class 3A to 4A.

Both agree there are differences between the two classifications.

“I’m happy we get to play the bigger teams,” Keanu said. “It has been a big change. It’s a lot tougher getting around the linebackers.”

It’s a lot harder, definitely,” Joe said. “It is more competition. We have to fight until the end. If we don’t, we know the other team can crawl back in and end up beating us.”

The fight to the end was evident last week when the Trojans erased a 6-0 deficit with a fourth-quarter touchdown to beat Coughlin. It was a win they hope the team can build off as they head toward a tough stretch of five games.

While Keanu and Joe are working with the rest of the team to keep the team competitive, there is a bit of a competitive nature between the two out on the field.

“I’m very competitive with my brother,” Keanu said with a laugh. “He thinks he is the better player. He is a better player on defense. I am better on offense. Sometimes I don’t think he is playing to his best, and he doesn’t think I am playing to my best. It’s friendly, but sometimes it can get interesting. We don’t take it home with us.”

Joe believes his younger brother has a point, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“Us together, we have our on and offs,” Joe said. “We are good together. Sometimes he tells me things are there and they aren’t. I haven’t been playing up to my potential on defense for a while. I haven’t gotten in a groove yet. I just think I can better than I have been on the defensive side. He is more of a vocal leader. When I see people slacking off, that is when I start talking. He is young and still has another year to go. I like to see him getting better as time goes along.”

8/22/2018

Football Nanticoke Area preview
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice

Photo: CHRISTOPHER DOLAN, License: N/A, Created: 2018:07:17 17:35:38

CHRISTOPHER DOLAN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Nanticoke Area junior Kyle Bobeck, left, and senior Joe Ammons

Building off last season

The biggest adjustment for the 2018 Nanticoke Area football team will be moving up in classification. The Trojans are going from 3A to 4A for the next two seasons, and with it comes the challenge of facing some schools they haven’t played in a while.

This current group has experience. Last season, the Trojans won the Eastern Conference championship, so this group knows how to win football games. Head coach Ron Bruza has not dwelled too much on the bump in classification, referring to it as an enrollment issue.

The Trojans return several players from last year’s EC title team, and have players in the backfield and on the outside that are capable of making big plays.

Limit turnovers

Turnovers severely hurt the Trojans last year. Against Pittston Area, Nanticoke Area turned the ball over five times in its first five possessions. Bruza spent a considerable amount of time during the offseason preaching the importance of hanging on to the ball. With a stronger schedule this season, the Trojans can’t afford to give the opponent any extra possessions.

Player to watch

Junior guard/defensive tackle Kyle Bobeck is the anchor up front on both sides of the ball. He is just one of those players who comes to practice every day ready to work. His goal is to make himself and his teammates better. He brings a physical presence to the game, and his strength has improved. He will be one of the leaders Bruza is counting on in the field and locker room.

Position-by-position breakdown

Quarterbacks

Colby Butczynski enters the season as the starter. He took over the role early last season due to injury. He completed 37.2 percent of his passes and threw for nine touchdowns and 652 yards. Devland Heffron and Mike Marcella are the backups.

Running backs

Joe Ammons is the halfback and is coming off a year where he carried the ball in six games for 537 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 10.5 yards per carry. Also in the backfield is John Shoemaker, Colin Kashatus, Austin Cheslaw and Shuquan Douglas.

Wide receivers

Darren Boseman led the team in receptions last year with 12 for 354 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 29.5 yards per catch. Keanu Ammons averaged 27.5 yards per catch. Both are expected to be key figures in the passing game. Dylan Szychowski and Trevor Grohowski will also see time at receiver.

Offensive line

The centers are Andy Gurzynski and Zack Pelton. The guards are Bobeck and Chris Shon. The tackles are Shane Repasky and Seth Pelton. The tight ends are Ammyn Gregory and Chase Musick.

Defensive line

The ends are Joe Ammons and Repasky. The tackles are Kyle Bobeck and Shon.

Linebackers

Seth Pelton, Douglas and Kashatus are the inside linebackers. The outside linebackers are John Shoemaker and Austin Cheslaw.

Secondary

Boseman and Keanu Ammons are the corners. Szychowski is the safety.

Special teams

Ricky Klepadlo, who kicked 38 extra points last season, returns as the kicker. Matt Engle is the punter.

BENNETT’S VIEW

After visiting every team in the WVC, staff writer Steve Bennett gives his take on the Trojans.

This year will certainly be a challenging one for the Trojans with the jump up in classification. The key will be patience. Nanticoke Area is going to have to win the games it is supposed to and try to steal a few along the way. With this group, it is possible, but they are going to have to stay healthy. After beginning last year 3-0, injuries hit hard and the result was a five-game losing streak that proved to be the difference between the District 2 playoffs and the Eastern Conference. This group has the potential to surprise a few teams along the way. In order for that to happen, the team will have to play up to its potential.