Hayden Keck

Hayden Keck gets around the edge for a touchdown during last year’s District Playoff win over Smethport.

The Coudersport football team put together a stellar 2019 season where they finished the season undefeated and took home a District Title and made it all the way to the second-round of the State Playoffs before stumbling to eventual 1A State Champions Farrell.

In 2020, expect the Falcons to have a much different look. With 12 graduating seniors, Coudersport will need to revamp in order to continue their winning ways.

With Coudersport not getting the opportunity to participate in much offseason work, it’s pivotal that players can continue to be self-motivated this offseason and not let the lack of a traditional offseason affect the work they put in.

“It’s not that we are looking for kids to put on 15-pounds of muscle, it would be awesome if they did but the big things for kids these days is making sure they’re active and in August when we start football practice that they are ready,” Head Coach Tom Storey said.

The need for staying active during these unseen conditions can be tough for athletes, with many pigeon-holed to the equipment and facilities they have at home. The best way for players to stay in shape is to utilize the basic workouts to keep themselves football-ready.

“We are trying to give them stuff to do and keep them busy over the summer,” Storey said. “But it comes down the age-old things we did growing up like pushups, situps and running stuff like that. We are trying to give them some things to keep them going during this offseason.”

Though the offseason will fall on the players to self-motivate, the Falcons have put together a program of consistent success. This upcoming season the Falcons will face the new challenge of replacing a large number of outgoing players.

“We are filling some holes here and there, but I think we got the kids who are going to be able to step in. We will have to wait and see. Everyone is going to be in the same boat this year as far as coming into the season,” Storey said.

One of the biggest holes that Coudersport will need to fill is in the backfield, with not only their leading-rusher Travis Gleason graduating, but also a slew of other players such as Kolby VanWhy, Thomas Wilson, Jacob Pitcher and Taylor Heverly, who accounted for 1,800 yards and a staggering 29 touchdowns on the ground for one of the most diverse running attacks in District 9.

“All of our backfield is gone,” Storey said. “VanWhy, Gleason, Wilson and Pitcher are gone. But we’ve been putting some guys in over the past year. We had a little preview at the end of the season having to put some new guys in at the end of the season with Gleason getting hurt and Wilson getting hurt.”

Despite losing some major producers in the backfield, the offensive line that anchored a run-game that ran wild on teams for nearly 3,400 yards, 55 touchdowns and averaged 6.6 yards per carry will bring back four out of five starters. A gritty group will ease the pain of possibly younger backs taking over the backfield in 2020.

“I know we got some linemen that played last year who are ready to step up and fill in that one hole in, I think that will be a big help to us,” Storey said.

Despite losing the 12 seniors, Storey thinks a big incoming freshmen class will inject some talent into the lineup as well. In single-A competition, a lot of freshmen come into the season at a much smaller disadvantage than some of the bigger schools.

“We are picking up 14 ninth graders,” Storey said. “So hopefully that will be a good thing to help us out.”

Despite losing a lot of offensive fire-power this season, quarterback Hayden Keck will be the player to watch on this offense as he proved throughout last season to be a dangerous double-threat and ran for 832 yards and 15 touchdowns while also throwing for 820 yards and four touchdowns.

Coudersport football has enjoyed a massive amount of success over the past few seasons and have amassed a 35-21 record since 2014 and have won two straight District Championships.

The culture of the Falcons program has been a big part of the continued success, and Coudersport will look to continue their winning ways next season behind a revamped roster.

“That’s what we have been trying to do, to build that culture,” Storey said. “Getting kids to understand how to excel out there on the field and for me it’s not only on the field but in life. There’s a lot of life lessons in sports and that’s the way I’ve always looked at it.”

The culture has been building throughout the year and has played a big part in the continued success and entering his fourth year as head coach expects that to continue to carry on this season.

“These players have been with me for three years and they know what we are looking for and to step up and do their part and keep the culture going.”

Coudersport is set to open its season in 2020 with an away game on August 21 against Union/Allegany-Clarion Valley at 7 p.m.