Wolverines set to start 2018 season against Smethport
The uncertainty is over. The time to play is now.
After an offseason filled with questions about the future of the Sheffield football program, the Wolverines are ready to put that all behind them and create a new legacy.
They will get the chance to do that this afternoon when they welcome Smethport to town for the first game in the new District 9 Small School division.
In actuality, the division is the same as the old Allegheny Mountain League North, with the key difference being those teams will now play their counterparts from the new Small School South this season, which is a combination of the old KSAC and AML South.
The Large School division in District 9 now creates more of an equal separation, something that was widely lauded at District 9 Media Day earlier this month.
With that being said, the schedule isn’t exactly a walk in the part out of the gate for the Wolverines, as Smethport is the preseason pick to win the North in a vote of league coaches.
“I like the expectations,” Smethport coach Adam Jack said about his team at Media Day. “We’re not going to shy away from them.”
Sheffield junior Walker Kyler is embracing the challenge of facing the Hubbers.
“We’re going to come out and knock them in the mouth,” he said at Media Day.
The Hubbers are a little bit more of a known commodity at this point, with key returners, including Blake Kinner, Nate Hollowell and Ian Woodruff.
Woodruff is a big, physical offensive tackle and defensive end who is coming off injury. He is an intriguing prospect, recently earning a scholarship offer from Lock Haven and drawing interest from a number of other schools.
At 6-2 and over 200 pounds, Kinner is one of the bigger backs in District 9. The Wolverines chances could largely depend on their ability to shut him and the Hubs’ running game down.
Hollowell, meanwhile, is a ballhawking defense back who Jack views as the quarterback of the defense. He will also see carries in the backfield.
Other key returners for Smethport include quarterback Grant Ognen, WR/DB Alex Sanderson and and TE/DE Brady Lafleuer.
Sheffield, meanwhile, has seen several key leaders emerge, including Matt Dunham, Nick Knowles, Kyler and Kevin Marfink.
Dunham will start at quarterback and will also quarterback the defense from his middle linebacker position, where he amassed over 100 tackles as a junior. Korbar has been impressed with both his play on the field and his intangibles.
“He is without a single doubt or question the leader by example,” Korbar said. “He has asked for extra time throughout this offseason to learn what he can to pick up the quarterback position and is stepping into that major role nicely.”
As for Knowles, he is a 4-year starter and a linchpin on both sides of the line.
“Nick needs to step up and be the beast he can be,” Korbar said. “When he does, he’s unstoppable. It’s up to him to be the leader of that crew up front on both sides of the ball. We’re only going to go as far as they push.”
Korbar pointed out the ‘intensity’ that Marfink brings to the table, and noted that he will be a weapon on offense from his running back position as well as a ‘force’ on defense.
Kyler is a Swiss Army knife who has played all over the field, the kind of player that will do whatever is necessary for the betterment of the team. Right now he is penciled in at fullback.
“He’s played all five offensive line spots and is the backup quarterback and has moved into the blocking back role for us,” Korbar said. “He is one of the top verbal guys and believes in this family we are trying to create.”
Ethan Finch will start at tight end and defensive end and the sophomore possesses good size and a strong frame, while junior Wesley Atwell also will start on both the offensive and defensive lines.
There is one common theme among these Wolverines, and that is one of heart. While there may be a lot of unknowns going into the season, they are going to play hard and play together.
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. on Wolverine Mountain.