Coach Sam Knopik understands that conditioning and physical fitness remain the most important factor for Pembroke Hill.
The Raiders, who finished 9-2 last season, hope the returning players maintain those same levels of fitness to contend again.
“We’ve got 14 to 16 players going both ways, so we’ve got to slow the game down a little bit,” Knopik said. “Their physical fitness has got to be in top shape.”
Pembroke Hill will rely on senior Dylan Peters to move over to quarterback after a fairly successful career at running back and linebacker.
Peters suffered an injury about six games into the last season, so Knopik said he was excited to be a big part of the squad.
The other strength for the Raiders looks like inside linebackers Paul Newell and Billy Humphrey. Both will be key pieces if Pembroke wants to have another solid season.
Senior Alex Kittoe transitions to cornerback, while also taking over some of the wide receiver duties.
“He’s grown up over the years, so it’s nice to have a tall corner back,” Knopik said.
Coach Knopik also mentioned Randy Williams, a senior offensive lineman, who will take over the center responsibilities, as well as long snapping duties.
On the defensive side of the ball, Knopik wanted to show some versatility to keep opponents on its toes.
“We’ve got the philosophy of coaching up fundamentals there, making sure they’re lined up right and communicating with other players,” he said. “We’ll run a four-man front and do different things with our outside linebackers.”
Pembroke Hill will rely on a strong early part to the season before working out with some of their biggest rivals later in the year, rivals such as St. Pius X, Lincoln Prep and University Academy.
“I know the coaches enjoy the matchups as much as we do,” Knopik said.