By Barry Sankey
PHOENIXVILLE — New Phoenixville Area High School head football coach Evan Breisblatt has a plan to build the Phantoms into strong contenders in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
He realizes the process will take time, but he has already applied some of his methods and ideas to Phoenixville’s strategy for the 2014 campaign that he will continue to use in future years. Breisblatt served as head coach at Pequea Valley in Lancaster County for three years prior to coming to Phoenixville.
Phoenixville will utilize a no-huddle look on offense to help establish a fast pace. The defense will also have a multiple, aggressive style.
Phoenixville is coming off a 4-5 mark in the PAC-10 (4-9 overall) in its 11th and final season under former head coach Bill Furlong.
Regardless of how they finish this season, the Phantoms figure to have some top individual talents performing around the circuit.
They include senior offensive left guard/middle linebacker Zach Gallow (6-2, 235), junior running back/wideout/tight end/strong safety Matt Palubinsky (6-3, 200) and two-way senior tackle Dave Rosati (6-1, 295).
Junior quarterback/cornerback Ian Brown (5-9, 170) is a tough athlete who gained some valuable experience a year ago.
Most of his handoffs and pass attempts will go to Palubinsky.
“Matt Palubinsky is a Player of the Year candidate,” said Breisblatt. “Athletically, he is off the charts. He is 6-3, 200 and is always in the weight room. He is benching 225 pounds and deadlifting over 400 pounds. He has worked his butt off and is also running a 4.8 or 4.9 40-yard dash. He has good speed and great hands and a 33-inch vertical leap.”
Palubinsky figures to pose coverage problems for opposing defensive backs and linebackers, who will not be as tall.
“We are looking for him to be the guy,” said Breisblatt. “We are going to use him in many different ways. We want to get him the ball. It is no secret. (Number) 17 is getting the ball.”
Breisblatt plans to utilize a blend of power and a finesse spread game on offense.
“Last year I got a lot of work at running back and wide receiver and last year I was a linebacker,” said Palubinsky. “This year will be a transition. I will be a d-back. But it will be simple with coach Breisblatt’s new system. They are making everything very simple.
“We will be using the hurry-up offense. Practice has been upbeat. We will be in pretty good shape by the time the season comes around. We will be ready. We don’t have the numbers so we are looking for guys to step up and play new positions. Everyone will be able to play every position they can.”
Gallow, who played tight end and was a club sack leader at outside linebacker-defensive end last year, is being counted upon to be a dominating, physical force at middle linebacker this year as the anchor of the defense. In a perfect scenario, Gallow would be used as a fullback on offense.
“It is a transition for me, but I love it,” said Gallow. “With my weight, I can help the team more with my body on the line. At linebacker, I can make some more tackles and fill holes. I can definitely help the team both ways. I will still give it my all on defense, doing what I do.”
Brown and sophomore Troy Rossman (6-0, 160) will be the quarterbacks. Joining them in the backfield will be senior Dylan Harris (5-11, 185) and Palubinsky, depending on the play and pattern called.
At center will be either junior Corey Bird (5-9, 190) or senior Jason Waltman (5-9, 205). Rosati will line up at left tackle again with Gallow at left guard. On the right side, at guard, will be either junior Mike Vargo (5-7, 185), senior John Deuber (5-9, 180) or Waltman. Freshman Jon Miller (6-1, 265) is expected to start at right tackle.
The wideouts will include senior Mike Ciaverelli (6-0, 170), senior Tom Hammaker (5-9, 160) and Brenn Myers (6-2, 180). Senior Damien Davido (5-10, 155) should also see time as a running back and defensive back.
On defense, Rosati, Harris and Calvin Lydon (6-0, 290) will man the tackles with Gallow, Waltman and sophomore Kyle Bennick (5-7, 170) at the inside linebacker spots. The secondary has Palubinsky joined by Ciaverelli, Davido and Brown.
“Gallow will wear number 52, which has great tradition with Phoenixville linebackers,” said Breisblatt. “We want to keep the tradition of great linebackers in Phoenixville history.”
Former PAHS star linebackers Neal Olkewicz and Rick Kraynak, who both played in the National Football League, wore No. 52, among others.
Soccer player Miguel Ramirez, a junior, will handle the placekicking chores with junior Melvin Obando or Myers doing the punting.
Sophomore Johnavin County, a sophomore who moved to the area from Louisiana last year, could receive some playing time since he is probably the fastest kid on the team, according to Breisblatt.
“It is the first time with a new offense and new defense,” said Breisblatt. “It is new, but they’ve all got it down 100 percent. I’m feeling we’re ready to go with this season. It is going to be a lot of fun.”
Follow Barry Sankey on Twitter @BarryBSankey1.