Biglerville is going back to the future.
But instead of a fancy DeLorean, the Canners will be riding retro in a jacked-up diesel truck with horsepower to spare. First-year head coach Brett Smyers was somewhat coy about the offense his team would run this fall, but was crystal clear regarding a scheme it will not use.
“We don’t run the Wing-T,” said Smyers, chuckling.
When asked if his playbook contains anything for Canner fans hoping to see old-school, Power-I football come back in vogue, Smyers added: “There aren’t any plays they won’t like.”
The Canners’ departure from the Wing-T comes at a time when they have the most prolific backfield not just in Adams County, but arguably the entire YAIAA. Seniors Sam Hurda (845 rushing yards, 8 TDs) and Kalen Sharrah (809 yards, 12 TDs) would put Biglerville in elite company as a duo.
That strength morphs into an embarrassment of riches when you add Josh Fulton to the mix. Fulton, who rushed for 935 yards and 14 scores while playing at Delone Catholic last season, has transferred back to Biglerville, his original school, giving the Canners a three-headed monster that accounted for nearly 2,600 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2019.
“We’re lucky to have them, and they’re all good friends,” said Smyers. “I’m going to feel confident calling whatever combination in the backfield and mixing around with different looks based on different abilities. It’s exciting to see what they can do.”
Fulton is built for power at 5-9, 220 pounds while Sharrah (5-7, 175) and Hurda (5-11, 180) have track star speed. Smyers believes all three bring different styles to the table but also compliment each other well within the offense.
“Kalen is a speed guy – he’s one of our fastest players – and he can take it to the house,” said Smyers. “Sam has great vision, he’s powerful and can really do just about anything. Josh has quick feet, good cuts and a good burst. He’s very versatile. I’m really impressed with all three of them.”
Creating running lanes for the Canner backs will fall to a line anchored by senior stalwart Johnny Sanchez (5-11, 220), a returning starter who gets the nod at right guard alongside classmate Darren Mickley (tackle, 5-10, 220) and junior Alex Cook (center, 6-0, 200). Smyers said the left side of the line was still sorting itself out.
Seniors Jesse Scott and Ben Wicker have the inside track at the receiver spots, with sophomore Colby Fulton in line for snaps as well. Sure-handed Logan Brewer (6-2, 210) provides a steady target at tight end.
Senior Zach Showers will direct an offense that ranked second locally last season in rushing yards per game (235.4) but mustered less than 35 yards per night passing. Smyers is confident Showers can do what is asked within the offense.
“He was our JV starter last year and played some varsity snaps,” Smyers said. “He’s got everything down and I’m happy with where he is.”
Defensively, the Canners took some lumps last fall on their way to a 3-7 record, allowing 27 points and nearly 300 yards per game. Adding a thumper like Fulton (113 tackles, 6 sacks) to a linebacking unit that already included hammers Sharrah and Hurda gives Biglerville a rock-solid foundation.
“It’s comforting having all those kids there,” said Smyers. “They’re fast, they read plays well and are all willing to step up and fill the hole. I don’t know what else I could ask for.”
The front four is a seasoned group as well, with Sanchez and Brewer at the end spots flanking Mickley and Cook. Scott and Colby Fulton will be the corners with Showers and sophomore Seth Lady lining up at safety.
Smyers expects to see improved execution from his defense based on slight scheme variations.
“Being able to execute consistently,” he said of the key for that unit. “I’m hoping with what we’re running we can alleviate some of the missed assignments by having a consistent scheme.”
Levi Roberts will handle kicking duties with Brewer punting.
Like all teams, the Canners faced an uncertain offseason as they went through voluntary workouts. Smyers found a silver lining in watching what his players were able to accomplish while not knowing if they would even suit up for an official practice.
“They were willing to do what they needed to do to ensure our season,” he said. “I’m blessed that they listen and take direction very well.”
Biglerville opens up its seven-game schedule with a road game at Fairfield on Friday night. With a shortened slate of only division contests there is an added sense of urgency each time the Canners take the field.
“We are literally living our lives one practice and one day at a time because no one knows what will happen tomorrow,” said Smyers. “We want to maintain that focus into an actual game and execute at the highest level we can.”
Getting to the opening night of the season was a win for Biglerville, which was the last school in the YAIAA to approve fall sports. There will be added significance for Smyers, a Biglerville alum and longtime assistant who will lead the Canners onto the field for the first time Friday night.
“I remember in college filling out a form with your career goals and I wanted to be a teacher and a coach, and I thought it would be awesome to coach my high school team,” said Smyers. “I love Biglerville and I love being here, it just feels right. I’m excited about what we’ve been able to do so far and excited to see us take it out on the field.”