Aug. 28--SWIFTWATER -- Pocono Mountain East's football team is banking on size and strength this fall.
What kind of size, you say?
Opponents will have fun tackling 200-pound senior running back in Cornelius Pippens for starters. And Pippens is the smaller of the two starting running backs. Jaylin Barmer is a 6-foot, 215-pound junior that will join Pippens in a split formation backfield. Barmer ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns a year ago.
Senior Dontae Edwards is a 185-pound senior who is bound to get plenty of carries as well. It could make for an interesting rotation if all three thrive in front of what should be one of the bigger offensive lines in the area.
"All three have similar running styles," first-year coach Mike Culkin said. "We're North-South, one cut offense when it comes to the run. They hit the hole hard and then once they get to the outside, they don't have blazing speed, but they see the field well. As soon as they cross that first line, they're good on that first move."
The Cardinals, who were 5-7 a year ago, return four players up front with experience. And yes, they're big.
Tackles Jeremy Candelario (290 pounds) and Matt Bruno (290) will bookend guards Ryan Maletta (220) and Bobby Szpara (250). Senior center Justin Wilkes (265) is the only new starter up front, and junior Franklyn Sewell can fill in at multiple spots, including tackle or center.
"Those guys are all fantastic," Culkin said. "Good feet."
Senior Luke Hohenstein will enter this year with eight starts under his belt from a year ago. His top targets will be seniors Sergio Taylor and Vince Trapasso.
Defensively, the Cardinals will run a 3-4. They'll also lean on a group of guys -- seven in all -- to play both ways.
"Our line, pretty much everybody is going to go two-ways," Culkin said. "Defensively, we have a pretty good rotation there."
Barmer and Jake Radomski will start at inside linebacker, while Maletta and Leroy Litus will start at outside linebacker.
"Linebackers, we're not big, we're not fast, but they read well, they hit the hole well," Culkin said. "Secondary, we have a couple guys that are returning, but speed is our biggest thing (to overcome). We have to play smarter."
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