PHOENIXVILLE - Bill Furlong and the rest of his coaching staff have been able to turn out solid, formidable teams in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
That description does not figure to change at any time soon as Furlong enters his 11th season at the helm of the Phantoms. Phoenixville finished with a 6-3 PAC-10 record last year (7-5 overall) and made a second straight trip to the District 1 Class AAA playoffs.
Senior Kyle Karkoska steps in as the Phantoms’ new starting quarterback this year. Karkoska started on defense last year at a safety position and will be performing double duty this fall.
A solid athlete, Karkoska will be a dual threat as a runner and rollout passer while calling signals for the Phoenixville offense.
Senior fullback Justin McDougal returns to the backfield, and sophomore Matt Raniszewski could also see time at the spot. McDougal also figures to line up at an inside linebacker postion on defense.
The rest of the running backs by committee includes senior DJ Brock, junior Damien Davido, junior Donnie Jackson, junior Mike Ciaverelli and sophomore Matt Palubinsky.
The tight end will be junior Zach Gallow, who played a full season at outside linebacker on defense a year ago.
The wide receiver position is pretty much up for grabs among a number of players.
Up front, the Phantoms will be led by two returning senior guards in Paul Hossler (6-1, 230) and Colin Mea (5-10, 235), who will both double as interior linemen on the defensive side of the ball.
Junior heavyweight wrestler Dave Rosati (5-10, 265), junior Jason Waltman and sophomore Cory Bird are also being counted upon as linemen.
“We’ve been here all summer,” said Mea. “We have some new guys stepping in with (offensive line) coach Bubba (Gray). We have some younger guys coming in as sophomores and working hard.”
Mea and Hossler realize they will be relied upon to perform well as veteran players as well as leaders on and off the field for the younger gridders to learn from and follow.
“We will have to carry this team,” said Mea. “It all starts on the line and we are experienced.”
As usual, the Phantoms will have numerous players going both ways and also assisting on special teams. The players feel they have conditioned themselves for those jobs through regular weightlifting and running during the offseason.
“It is not always our low numbers but because these are guys who are stepping up to propel themselves,” said Mea.
Hossler enjoyed a big year last season as a pulling left guard who was effective at leading sweep plays as well as plugging up the middle along the defensive line.
“We have a bunch of new guys who are linemen doing drills,” said Hossler. “They are stepping up and want to win a spot. They came to so many workouts during the summer. They really want to play.”
Karkoska will be joined at safety by someone of a group consisting of Palubinsky, Raniszewski, sophomore Ian Brown and Ciaverelli.
The cornerbacks are Jackson, Brock, Davido and junior Tom Hammaker. Senior track star Mackensey Thomas is a first-year football player who could use his athleticism to aid the wide receiver and defensive back positions.
At outside linebacker are Gallow and junior Theo McLemore, who played a line position last year; with Waltman and McDougal on the inside. Hossler, Mea and Rosati will man the trenches up front.
Senior Cole Luzins started for two years as a defensive back and wideout. However, he has a medical condition this year and may be utilized solely as a punter and placekicker. Senior girls soccer standout Alex Wertman could also see some playing time as a kicker.