Sherwood prepares for the 2011 season
For the fourth time in as many years, the Sherwood football program is welcoming a new face to the sidelines.
Al Thomas guided the Warriors to the 2008 Class 4A state championship and then briefly retired. Pat Cilento inherited the head job and took the team to the Class 4A state semifinals before leaving for Bullis. Last fall, another longtime Sherwood assistant, Marc Thomas, took the Sandy Spring school to the 4A West Region final, but stepped down shortly after the season.
Now, Mike Bonavia is getting his shot at instant success, albeit with far less proven talent.
“There is no question we are rebuilding,” the former Richard Montgomery and Einstein helmsman said. “Every starter from last year graduated along with 31 seniors. Yes, we have the Sherwood name and tradition, but none of the kids playing this year have proven they deserve anything. We are all in this together paving our own chapter.”
With virtually no every down contributors returning, the Warriors are living off name recognition at the moment, but if the young talent comes together sooner than later Quince Orchard comes calling week one another postseason appearance is likely in the cards.
Junior Jordan Larsen has all the tools with a strong arm and mobility to develop into a solid quarterback, but has minimal game experience. He, however, has been mentored during the offseaon by former Sherwood standout Deontay Twyman.
“This is a big opportunity to show what I got,” Larsen said. “I’d like to put up great numbers and break records. But above anything else, it is all about winning games. If I have to hand the ball off every play or throw it all the time, so be it. I don’t care how ugly I look or what my stats are, but if we get to play a [M&T Bank Stadium] in November, it will all be worth it.”
Larsen won’t have the luxury of throwing to veteran receivers since Alex Cole, Jamal Merritt and Michael Begley all graduated so he will have to rely on first year starters Dan Kapepula and Abdoulie Jallow.
Up front, the Warriors will be undersized, but senior laden with Adam Hollander (LT), Connor Black (RG) and Monroe Sherman (RT). Underclassmen Dean Emerson (C) and Mark Sherman (LG) round out the unit.
Senior Fernando Smith, a transfer from Reservoir, is a big (5-10, 200 lbs.) and powerful running back that is expected to see most of the carries. Braelin Howard will also be in the mix.
“I’m really looking forward to that first game against QO,” Smith said. “It’s a really big game and it will show us where we are.”
On paper, it appears that the Warriors defense will regress from its 10.5 points allowed per game average due to inexperience and the departure of defensive coordinator Pete Siarkas. But only time will tell.
“I still think we will be pretty stingy on defense,” Bonavia said. “How we will fit with larger teams remains to be seen. We don’t have any 260 or 270 pound guys, but we sure are fast to the ball.”
Fitz Mofor, who might become a household name by the end of the season, and Olijuawon Griffin will lead the linebacking corps while Richie DiPietro will direct the secondary along with Howard, the team’s top cornerback.
Patrick Karngbaye, a transfer from Minnesota, is also expected to make major contributions along the defensive line at nose guard.