Trojan Football


Mid-Season Report
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice


The jump from Class 3A to 4A for the Trojans this year was expected to be a challenge. And for the most part, the Trojans have adapted well. They have wins over Tunkhannock and Coughlin, while losing to Pittston Area by seven, as well as a pair of 35-7 losses to Wyoming Area and Western Wayne. Four of the five games in the second half of the year are manageable provided the Trojans can play well. They have scored 21 points in their last three games while allowing 76. The Trojans find themselves as the No. 7 seed in the eight-team Class 4A field, and can take a step in the right direction with a win over Crestwood this weekend. The Trojans are averaging 270.6 yards per game, while the defense is giving up 299 per game. The Trojans did start the year with some youth on the offensive line. The group is continuing to grow up as the season progresses and will be a much better group at the end of the year than it was when it started.

Joe, Keanu Ammons help bring balanced playmaking to Nanticoke Area
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:09:10 03:18:16

(DAVE SCHERBENCO / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)Nanticoke Area’s Joe and Keanu Ammons

Their personalities could not fit the positions they play on the football field any better. Keanu Ammons, the flashy junior wide receiver, is quick with a smile or a joke and is incredibly descriptive when talking about what he does on the field.

His older brother, Joe, a running back and defensive end, is quite the opposite. Befitting of a player who does all the dirty work, Joe is quiet and more reserved. It takes a little bit longer to get a smile out of him. It is easy to realize he is all business.

His primary responsibility is carrying the ball, picking up yards after contact and constantly being blocked as he attempts to crash through the line of scrimmage or attack a running back trying to hit the edge.

But one thing they both share, besides a last name, is the fact that their 2017 season took a bit longer to get started than they anticipated.

Keanu missed four games because of a broken thumb. Joe got his chance when injuries took a big chunk out of Nanticoke Area’s depth chart. However, once both were able to get on the field, the impact they had on the team was noticeable right from the start.

“I was out for four games, but once I got back at it, my first game against Northwest, 87-yard kick return for a touchdown,” Keanu said. “From there, I just started making a bigger impact.”

It took Joe a bit longer to make his presence felt.

Once injuries began to take its toll on the Nanticoke Area backfield, it became next-man-up mentality. That next man was Joe. He carried the ball in six games, rushed for 537 yards and six touchdowns. He also averaged 10.5 yard per carry.

“I didn’t think I would be playing halfback last year,” Joe admitted. “After Eric Jeffries got injured, coach (Ron Bruza) put me in there and told me it would be a good fit for me. This year, I just came and continued to do the same things I was doing last year.”

And for the both of them this year, it has been so far, so good. The playmaking abilities have carried over, and it is a big reason why the Trojans are 2-1 heading into tonight’s key mathcup at Wyoming Area.

Joe is leading the team in rushing with 345 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Keanu has rushed for 59 yards and a score. Keanu is also averaging 27.8 yards per catch and has returned one punt 64 yards for a touchdown.

“I’m just back there trying to do the best I can,” Keanu said. “Just want to get us the best field position I can. I just catch it and go from there. I look for the first guy coming down the field. Then I look for Darren (Boseman), the other return man back there with me. Last year, they used to kick to me all the time. If they do kick to me, I’m not going to lie, I’m looking to take it to the house. It’s the best feeling in the world when you see the end zone. Just another blessing.”

In a way, Keanu takes his role on special teams and offense as a challenge. Boseman is capable of making big plays of his own on special teams, and is slotted in as the team’s primary receiver. So when Keanu gets his opportunities, he plays with the idea that he has to make something happen. Plus, there is the fact the Trojans are a team that is usually run-oriented.

Joe feels the same way. With the offensive line being a question mark coming into the season, he felt it would take a while for the unit to become a cohesive one. After three games, the line has come together quicker than anticipated. That has made Joe’s job a bit easier when it comes to hearing his number called in the huddle.

“Our offensive line is young, but they are getting better as we go along,” Joe said. “I think they have played great. They want to get better. They work really hard.”

Aside from what is thrown at them from the football perspective within their own program, there was the challenge of moving up from Class 3A to 4A.

Both agree there are differences between the two classifications.

“I’m happy we get to play the bigger teams,” Keanu said. “It has been a big change. It’s a lot tougher getting around the linebackers.”

It’s a lot harder, definitely,” Joe said. “It is more competition. We have to fight until the end. If we don’t, we know the other team can crawl back in and end up beating us.”

The fight to the end was evident last week when the Trojans erased a 6-0 deficit with a fourth-quarter touchdown to beat Coughlin. It was a win they hope the team can build off as they head toward a tough stretch of five games.

While Keanu and Joe are working with the rest of the team to keep the team competitive, there is a bit of a competitive nature between the two out on the field.

“I’m very competitive with my brother,” Keanu said with a laugh. “He thinks he is the better player. He is a better player on defense. I am better on offense. Sometimes I don’t think he is playing to his best, and he doesn’t think I am playing to my best. It’s friendly, but sometimes it can get interesting. We don’t take it home with us.”

Joe believes his younger brother has a point, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“Us together, we have our on and offs,” Joe said. “We are good together. Sometimes he tells me things are there and they aren’t. I haven’t been playing up to my potential on defense for a while. I haven’t gotten in a groove yet. I just think I can better than I have been on the defensive side. He is more of a vocal leader. When I see people slacking off, that is when I start talking. He is young and still has another year to go. I like to see him getting better as time goes along.”


Football Nanticoke Area preview
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice

Photo: CHRISTOPHER DOLAN, License: N/A, Created: 2018:07:17 17:35:38

Nanticoke Area junior Kyle Bobeck, left, and senior Joe Ammons

Building off last season

The biggest adjustment for the 2018 Nanticoke Area football team will be moving up in classification. The Trojans are going from 3A to 4A for the next two seasons, and with it comes the challenge of facing some schools they haven’t played in a while.

This current group has experience. Last season, the Trojans won the Eastern Conference championship, so this group knows how to win football games. Head coach Ron Bruza has not dwelled too much on the bump in classification, referring to it as an enrollment issue.

The Trojans return several players from last year’s EC title team, and have players in the backfield and on the outside that are capable of making big plays.

Limit turnovers

Turnovers severely hurt the Trojans last year. Against Pittston Area, Nanticoke Area turned the ball over five times in its first five possessions. Bruza spent a considerable amount of time during the offseason preaching the importance of hanging on to the ball. With a stronger schedule this season, the Trojans can’t afford to give the opponent any extra possessions.

Player to watch

Junior guard/defensive tackle Kyle Bobeck is the anchor up front on both sides of the ball. He is just one of those players who comes to practice every day ready to work. His goal is to make himself and his teammates better. He brings a physical presence to the game, and his strength has improved. He will be one of the leaders Bruza is counting on in the field and locker room.

Position-by-position breakdown


Colby Butczynski enters the season as the starter. He took over the role early last season due to injury. He completed 37.2 percent of his passes and threw for nine touchdowns and 652 yards. Devland Heffron and Mike Marcella are the backups.

Running backs

Joe Ammons is the halfback and is coming off a year where he carried the ball in six games for 537 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 10.5 yards per carry. Also in the backfield is John Shoemaker, Colin Kashatus, Austin Cheslaw and Shuquan Douglas.

Wide receivers

Darren Boseman led the team in receptions last year with 12 for 354 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 29.5 yards per catch. Keanu Ammons averaged 27.5 yards per catch. Both are expected to be key figures in the passing game. Dylan Szychowski and Trevor Grohowski will also see time at receiver.

Offensive line

The centers are Andy Gurzynski and Zack Pelton. The guards are Bobeck and Chris Shon. The tackles are Shane Repasky and Seth Pelton. The tight ends are Ammyn Gregory and Chase Musick.

Defensive line

The ends are Joe Ammons and Repasky. The tackles are Kyle Bobeck and Shon.


Seth Pelton, Douglas and Kashatus are the inside linebackers. The outside linebackers are John Shoemaker and Austin Cheslaw.


Boseman and Keanu Ammons are the corners. Szychowski is the safety.

Special teams

Ricky Klepadlo, who kicked 38 extra points last season, returns as the kicker. Matt Engle is the punter.


After visiting every team in the WVC, staff writer Steve Bennett gives his take on the Trojans.

This year will certainly be a challenging one for the Trojans with the jump up in classification. The key will be patience. Nanticoke Area is going to have to win the games it is supposed to and try to steal a few along the way. With this group, it is possible, but they are going to have to stay healthy. After beginning last year 3-0, injuries hit hard and the result was a five-game losing streak that proved to be the difference between the District 2 playoffs and the Eastern Conference. This group has the potential to surprise a few teams along the way. In order for that to happen, the team will have to play up to its potential.