Nanticoke Area stifles Redeemer and claim the Class 3A Eastern Conference championship - CONGRATULATIONS!
Daniel Newhart - Citizens Voice

Under most circumstances, Nanticoke Area head coach Ron Bruza would probably prefer not to be soaked with a water cooler on a brisk night with the temperature hovering in the mid-50s.
The moments following his team’s victory to claim the Class 3A Eastern Conference championship would be one of the few exceptions.
The Trojans held Holy Redeemer to 61 yards of total offense and put up over 500 of their own in a 58-12 win over the Royals.
Joe Ammons and Dawson Hughes had three rushing touchdowns apiece, combining for 353 yards on the ground in the process and Trevor Grohowski had an interception aiding a Nanticoke Area defense that sacked Holy Redeemer quarterback J.D. Turosky eight times throughout the game.
The Royals’ Colin Conway had a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown and Turosky connected with receiver Jared Piontkowski on a 15-yard pitch-and-catch late in the fourth quarter.
“It’s not even about me, it’s about these kids,” Bruza said. “They’re a great group of young men — they overcame some adversity and some things throughout the middle of the season and they turned it on (at the end of the season).”
Joe Ammons had the lone score of the first quarter on a 2-yard score that capped off a 4-play drive that lasted a little over three minutes.
After Conway’s pick-six at the beginning of the second quarter, which tied the score 6-6, the Trojans got their offense rolling, responding with four touchdowns all courtesy of Hughes and Ammons who had two each on the ground.
“Coach (Dwayne) Downing and his staff did a good job to confuse us early with some of their blitzes and stunts and things like that,” Bruza said. “Once we settled down and got things together we played our football game.”
Hughes picked up where he left off to start the third quarter, running it in from 32 yards out on a 4-play drive that lasted two minutes and was also highlighted by a 19-yard run from quarterback Colby Butczynski on a fourth-and-10 to keep the drive alive.
Butczynski connected with receiver Darren Boseman on an 86-yard pass to extend the lead early in the fourth, then Collin Kashatus’ four yard scamper capped off the scoring for the Trojans.
Turosky’s 15-yard pass to Piontkowski was the final of the night for either team.

Backfield tandem helps Nanticoke Area start 3-0
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice

Ron Bruza has an interesting dilemma on his hands when the Nanticoke Area offense takes the field.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s tough to consider it a problem. It’s more of a luxury that any football coach would love to have.
Bruza can hand the ball to bruising senior fullback Dawson Hughes, who has the ability to pick up the tough yards inside.
Or, Bruza can call on senior Eric Jeffries, who follows the path Hughes creates to pick up the big yards in the middle of the field or on the edge.
Either way you look at it, the two have formed the most dynamic one-two running punch in the Wyoming Valley Conference, and one that has the Trojans off to a 3-0 start heading into tonight’s showdown at Meyers.
Through three weeks, Jeffries leads the conference in rushing with 581 yards. Hughes is third on the list with 312.
“They both had a tremendous offseason and they worked really hard,” Bruza said. “Right now they are playing the way we expected them to be playing.”
Bruza has done a nice job balancing the carries between the two. The 6-foot, 215-pound Jeffries leads the team with 59 carries, while the 5-foot-8, 200-pound Hughes is right behind with 51.
Hughes came on the scene toward the end of his sophomore season after an ankle injury in the offseason limited his time. Jeffries began his high school career at Holy Redeemer, but transferred to Nanticoke Area prior to last season.
While Jeffries was new to the Nanticoke Area program, he grew up playing mini-football in Nanticoke so he had an understanding of the players around him. During their mini-football days, Hughes was the fullback while Jeffries was the tailback.
Only now the stakes are a bit higher.
“We had a connection before last year,” Hughes said. “Now, we are just picking up where we left off since he came from Redeemer.”
The learning curve was a bit steep for Jeffries last season. Coming from Holy Redeemer, he needed to learn the Wing-T. It was an interesting process to say the least.
“The offense took me a while,” Jeffries said. “Thankfully Dawson knows the offense inside and out. This year I had a full offseason with it. Now, I am fully acclimated to it.”
The two spent their offseason, along with the rest of the team, working out in the weight room. Jeffries and Hughes took a plyometric exercise class to help improve their flexibility.
But the key for both has been running behind an experienced offensive line.
The Trojans entered the season with high expectations. Not just internally, but externally the word was out that this had the potential to be a big season for Nanticoke Area.
The Trojans are coming off an appearance in the District 2 playoffs and the extra week of football has this year’s team wanting more of the same.
“We knew we had a target on our backs from last year,” Hughes said. “There were going to be some teams that knew we were getting better and there are some teams who didn’t think we are. We are just a lot more experienced than we have been.”
Jeffries came into the season wanting Nanticoke Area to have the best backfield in the conference. Up to this point, it is tough to argue against the production. But it’s something they won’t take for granted. There is a lot of football left to play and things can change in an instant.
“I think we are doing a good job so far,” Jeffries said. “The line has been playing phenomenal. We just have to keep taking it one game at a time. We can’t worry about weeks down the road. We just have to focus on the team we are playing.”

Flashback to 1987: Nanticoke Area sends message in opener
Jim Reeser - Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area football coach Bill Goodman had 18 reasons to be excited entering Week 1 of the 1987 WVC season.
Goodman welcomed back 18 lettermen, including eight starters. With quarterback Jim McDermott leading the way, there was plenty of optimism to turn around the Trojans’ 3-7-1 record from 1986.
“I’ve been excited since this group was sophomores,” Goodman said. “I’ve just been waiting for his bunch to become seniors … and this is the year. If we don’t challenge for honors this season then it could be a long time before Nanticoke has the opportunity again. Our strong point is our experience, but we lack depth on the offensive line.”
Right out of the gate, the Trojans were going to be tested. They had a Week 1 matchup with traditional WVC power Coughlin.
The Crusaders were led by three-year starter Matt Walsh, who entered the season with more than 3,000 yards rushing.
“Without a doubt Walsh is the key,” Coughlin coach John Joseph said. “We need another great season from him.”
The Trojans were looking to make an early statement and were looking for some revenge against the Crusaders. In 1986, Coughlin routed the Trojans 38-7. To help motivate the Trojans, Goodman and the coaching staff wore T-shirts at practice with “38-7” on the front.
It worked.
McDermott was 17 of 27 for 198 yards and a touchdown in the Trojans’ 31-14 win.
He added two touchdowns on the ground.
“My offensive line gave us so much time,” McDermott said. “And they were opening holes for Bob Scally (115 yards, two touchdowns) like you wouldn’t believe.”
Scally had touchdown runs of 16 and 47 yards.
This was the best game I’ve had,” Scally said. “When you have someone like Jimmy, who the defense keys on, my job is a lot easier.”
Walsh was limited to 55 yards and a touchdown.

Nanticoke Area: Meet the 2017 Trojan
Steve Bennett, Staff Writer / Published: August 23, 2017

Senior Matt Wrubel (5-10, 175) returns for his third season as the starting quarterback. Last year he rushed for seven touchdowns and threw for 559 yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore Devland Heffron is the backup.
Senior Dawson Hughes (5-8, 200) and senior Eric Jeffries (6-0, 215) are the most experienced backs returning. They combined for 368 carries, 2,087 yards and 14 touchdowns. Junior Matt Bobeck, junior John Kryzwicki and sophomore Darren Boseman will also see time in the backfield.
Boseman, junior Dylan Szychowski (6-2, 185), sophomore Colby Butczynski (6-2, 170), senior Mark Walters and junior Trevor Grohowski are the receivers. Boseman had 12 catches for 208 yards and three touchdowns last year. Szychowski had four catches, while Walters had two.
The center is 6-2, 255-pound junior Andrew Gurzynski.
The guards are sophomore Kyle Bobeck (6-1, 228) and senior John Guszak (6-0, 253). Senior Kris Siewell (6-1, 207)and senior Jack Conover (6-1, 240) are the tackles.
The tight end is 6-foot, 200-pound junior Joe Ammons.
Ammons and Matt Bobeck will be the ends. Kyle Bobeck and Guszak are the tackles.
Siewell and Hughes will play inside with Jefferies and Shoemaker on the outside.
The corners are Walters and Grohowski. The safeties are Kryzwicki, Szychowski, who had a team-high three interceptions in 2016, and Boseman.
Sophomore Ricky Klepadlo, who kicked 11 extra points last year, is the kicker. Kryzwicki is the punter.

Nanticoke Area: 4 storylines for the Trojans
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice

For the first time in 17 years, Nanticoke Area qualified for the District 2 playoffs.
With all but six players returning, head coach Ron Bruza is hoping the experience of that playoff run will pay dividends this year.
It gave the program a taste of what postseason football is all about. The extra week of practice certainly helped, and just being able to play a football game in Week 11 for the third time since 1999, has the Trojans wanting more.
Finish what you start
In 2016, the Trojans won five games for the second time under Bruza.
But the Trojans did have a problem. In two of the games Nanticoke Area lost last year, Trojans were up 14-0 at one point. Another game the Trojans lost by a point.
Bruza is looking for an emphasis on keeping their foot on the gas. He wants the Trojans to take those 14-0 leads and add on. Had that been the case last year, a 5-5 regular season would have been 7-3.
The schedule
The Trojans have the opportunity to be competitive in every game this season.
Pittston Area, Tunkhannock and Crestwood were newcomers to the slate a year ago.
But they are all teams fans who follow the Trojans know a little something about. That helped generate interest in the community, and Bruza no longer had to answer questions about where certain teams are from.
The Trojans get to start the season with two games at home.
Player to watch
Being a double-wing team, the Trojans make it no secret they like to run the football.
Having 5-foot-8, 200-pound senior Dawson Hughes back gives the offense some experience.
Hughes rushed for 1,181 yards and eight touchdowns last year.
Coupled with Eric Jeffries, who rushed for 906 yards and six scores, Hughes could be poised for an even bigger season after carrying the ball 202 times out of 523 total team rushing attempts.

Monday Morning Quarterback: Trojans hope to build on success
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice

Internally, the expectations are tempered. But outside of the Nanticoke Area program, there has been plenty of talk about the Trojans heading into the new season.
But when Week 10 rolls around this year, Ron Bruza wouldn’t mind experiencing the same feelings this year as he did last season. However strange it was.
The Trojans knocked off Hanover Area in the final game of the regular season. By the time the Trojans reached the locker room, they were under the impression they would be hosting an Eastern Conference playoff game. It would have been a nice way to send the seniors out and cap what turned out to be a fine year.
That was when things took a bit of a strange twist — for the better — for the Trojans. While receiving results from other games, and doing some excruciating math, the Trojans found out they were not heading to the Eastern Conference playoffs. Instead, they were making their first appearance in the district playoffs in 17 years.
“We stumbled a bit at the beginning of the season, but got hot at the end,” Bruza said. “This year the guys are motivated and want to build off that success. That is where they want to go.”
The Trojans find themselves in pretty good shape as far as balance on both sides of the ball. With all but six players back from last season’s team, the Trojans have experienced players up front and at the skill positions. There have been seasons when Nanticoke Area had one but not the other.
“We have some depth and some guys that have been around the block,” Bruza said. “This is probably the most well-rounded team that I have had here. It seemed we would always have a good backfield and a weak line, or a strong line and weak backfield. We are going to be able to lean on our senior leadership.”