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Tribe Looking to Move to “Next Level”
Written by Bradley Schlegel Staff Writer
2016-08-24

Upper Perk football Head Coach Tom Hontz, right, keeps an eye on the team practicing a running play Tuesday. The Tribe takes on Boyertown Friday night in a non-league game.

                Zeke Hallman spent his sophomore season learning the intricacies of Upper Perkiomen's passing game. As a junior, he developed an appreciation for the offensive linemen's responsibilities.

                This season, his third as starting quarterback, Hallman is prepared to lead the Indians to respectability and beyond in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.

                "This team is tired of the mediocrity and being average," he said. "We want to take this to the next level. Hopefully, we will be playing in November."

                Upper Perkiomen opens the 2016 season on the road against Boyertown at 7 p.m. Friday in a non-league game. According to Hallman, the team is prepared to improve last year's three-win season.

                "We're miles ahead from where we were at this point last year," the senior said. "The whole team is more ready to win than last year. All the mental work has been ironed out. The main thing is learning our assignments for Friday night and executing them."

                Hallman, who said he knows Head Coach Tom Hontz's playbook "backwards and forwards," is prepared to act like another coach on the field.

                "My main goal is to manage the game, be a leader in the huddle and on the field and make sure the other 10 guys are doing what they are supposed to do," he said.

                According to Hontz, Hallman has embraced his role as a team leader during pre-season practice. The coach called his quarterback a vocal presence.

                "Zeke has a really nice arm and is very smart," the coach said of Hallman, who will handle the team's place kicking and punting duties. "We're expecting big things from him."

                Hallman, Tyler Wary and Dylan Reinford will serve as Upper Perkiomen's captains. Cole Fryer has emerged as a leader on the offensive line, according to the quarterback.

                "Everyone has been working well together for a common goal," Hontz said. "Hopefully they will have some success. They really deserve it."

                The Indians' pro-style offense, working mostly out the "I" formation with an occasional shotgun look, will feature a pair of junior running backs. The coach described Wary and Austin Tutolo, who received significant playing time the past two seasons, as powerful runners.

                Ryan Kendra, a junior wide receiver and the team's only returning all-conference honoree, and junior tight end Trevor Stephen should be Hallman's favorite targets.

                "Ryan can do some special things," Hontz said.

                Hallman feels comfortable making pre-snap reads at the line of scrimmage. He credited the tutelage of quarterback Coach Casey Perlstein for developing proper technique.

                "Working with Casey, I have seen a dramatic improvement in my game," Hallman said. "I'm getting to the point where I'm pretty comfortable with my reads, and my footwork is much better."

                The offensive line, which suffered significant losses to graduation, hopes to rely on proper technique and toughness, according to Hontz. 

                Cole Fryer, a junior guard, and senior tackle Josh Engdhal should anchor the group. However, Engdhal is coping with nagging injuries, according to the coach.

                "We don't have much depth," Hontz said. "We should be O.K. if we can stay healthy."

                The team's 3-5 stack defense utilizes a quintet of linebackers. According to the coach, the alignment is intended to disrupt the opposition's pass protection. Hontz said they move around the field, and sometimes walk to the line of scrimmage to engage an offensive lineman.  "They are a very athletic group," the coach said.

                Hontz described Reinford, the middle linebacker, as the leader of the defense.

                "Dylan always knows what's going on," the coach said. "He's not afraid to stick his nose in."

                Wary, Tutolo and senior Aidan Rowles will start at linebacker. Competition for the fifth starting linebacker spot has been fierce, according to Hontz.

 


 

 

 

 

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