Football Preview 2016: Rams looking to win with smaller team

Strasburg coach Mark Roller works with his offensive unit during a recent practice. The Rams have a young and inexperienced squad this season. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Strasburg football coach Mark Roller may not have as many kids out for this year’s team as he would like, but he still believes they can have a successful season.

Roller said that it will be important for his team, which has 30 players, to stay healthy.

“I know there are a lot of teams that have won a lot of games (with low numbers),” Roller said. “I keep telling our kids that we can win even though we have low numbers, but you’ve got to stay healthy and you’ve got to do the right things and eat healthy.”

Senior Ethan Duckworth will be the starting quarterback. Last year Duckworth threw for 79 yards in a back-up role.

“I think he looks better,” Roller said. “I think he’s a little more confident now than he was last year. So I think that that’s a plus for him and going into senior year you always have a little bit more confidence. We’re looking forward to him leading us and putting some points on the board for us. We’re expecting big things from him.”

Junior Austin Miller is moving from tight end, where he had nine catches for 97 yards last year, to tailback. Senior Josh Pritchett returns at fullback.

Roller said that sophomores Greg Mason, Brody Tomblin and Tyjone Carter will also see time at running back.

Senior Trevor Taff is the only returner at wide receiver, and Roller said sophomore Stephen Kloosterman, along with senior Justin Rickard and junior Jacob Knapp, will also see action at wide receiver.

One of the strong suits for Strasburg should be the offensive line.

The Rams return plenty of experience on the line. Sophomore Hunter Miller, seniors Zach Scott, Hunter Riley, Ryan Day and Ryan Jenkins are expected to be the starters. Roller said that only Day, who did not play last year, did not see playing time on the offensive line last season.

Roller said that juniors Ian Alsberry, Quentin Elliott and Shawn Hamp and senior Caleb Warren will see playing time on the offensive line and all of them saw playing time last year.

“We got some young guys, and we got some seniors there, so that’s kind of the bright spot because those guys have been around,” Roller said. “Except for Ryan Day, they’ve all played in the years past. Not that we’re going to hang our hat on the offensive line, but we’re going to go as far as they block for us.”

Junior Grant Scott is expected to be the starting tight end.

Roller said that Riley, Day, Alsberry and Warren will see time on the defensive line, along with Duckworth, who had 34 tackles last year, and Grant Scott at the defensive end spots.

The Rams should be solid at linebacker. Miller, who led the team with 95 tackles, returns along with Pritchett and Zach Scott.

Pritchett played on the defensive line last year, recording 27 tackles and two sacks, but played at linebacker in his first two seasons.

Roller said that Carter and Mason will also see time at linebacker.

In the secondary, Taff, Kloosterman, Rickard, Tomlin and Knapp will get plenty of playing time.

Pritchett, who led the area with a 40.1 average, is back at punter. Roller said he expects Knapp to take over the kicking duties.

Strasburg has 11 seniors, but several of those didn’t play last year. The Rams went 5-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs last season.

Roller said that team chemistry will be a key to success for his young team.

“I think overall if they can jell together and work as a team, I think we’ll be OK and we’ll be able to win some games,” Roller said. “We’ll take every day just one day at a time and keep trying to get better.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com