Two-Year Wonder: Nanticoke's Fox leaving his mark
Steve Bennett – Citizens Voice

Joe Fox wants to go back and do it all over, but the Nanticoke Area senior knows he can’t.

As he wraps up his second and final season on the Trojans football team and sets his sights on basketball season, Fox wishes he had spent more than just two years on the football field.

The Trojans coaches do, too.

Fox envisioned himself as a basketball player and a basketball player only. Sure, he played junior football when he was younger as a lot of kids do. But he stopped playing.

Nanticoke Area head coach Ron Bruza quickly identified Fox as an athlete, someone who could help the football team. He tried to get Fox to join the team in his freshman and sophomore years. Each time Bruza made his pitch, Fox didn’t bite.

“I was more into basketball, that was my thing,” Fox said. “I was thinking about just playing basketball all four years. My friends and I used to come to the football games and sit in the stands and watch. It looked like fun. Last year they told me I should go out for the team.”

So he did.

Listed at 6 feet, 195 pounds, Fox began his career as a wide receiver while seeing some time at tight end. Not exactly built for tight end, especially in an offense that runs the wing-T, Fox had to learn on the fly, often being asked to block defensive linemen bigger and stronger than him.

“I was basically just trying to learn,” Fox said. “Obviously from mini football, it is a lot different at high school football. It was more just learning what I had to do and work on the fundamentals. I just went out there and did what the coaches told me to do.”

Fox reached one of his goals his junior season by scoring a touchdown against Lakeland. With a fresh taste of what it was like to be on the football field, he also got the chance to make some big plays on defense at middle linebacker.

“We were on him to come out, but each time he said he would consider it, he changed his mind,” Bruza said. “Once we got him, we saw he had great speed and vision and was a physical guy. We knew we wanted to get him the ball and put him at inside linebacker.”

Fox saw his time on the football field pay dividends when he returned to the basketball court for his junior season.

“I thought if I played football I would get stronger for basketball,” Fox said. “It paid off.”

Running the offensive scheme that he does, Bruza wanted to make sure Fox got the ball in his hands as much as possible. Last year there was depth at wide receiver, so the time at tight end made sense. This year there was not as much depth, but the possibility existed for Fox to see his role change.

Bruza had him taking reps at running back. Then thanks to an injury, Fox finally got the chance to be a featured ball carrier for the Trojans and the move helped Nanticoke Area win its first game of the year.

In a back-and-forth defensive struggle with Hanover Area that saw the Trojans trailing by a touchdown heading to the fourth quarter, Fox took the opportunity in his new role and ran with it. He scored on a 21-yard touchdown run to close the gap to a point, and then clinched the game with 3:08 left to play when he took a sweep 69 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

“He’s the big reason we beat Hanover Area, the last run he had is the way we won the game,” Bruza said. “That was his breakout game.”

Through six games, Fox is second on the team in rushing with 166 yards. He is averaging 5.0 yards per carry, and is tied for the team-lead in rushing touchdowns with two.

“The season hasn’t gone the way we planned,” Fox said. “With our schedule, we ended up having a different schedule than we were supposed to. I think if we had our original schedule we would be having a much better year. We ended up having to play much bigger schools. I’m still having fun playing out there with my friends.”

It’s the type of fun he wishes he could have experienced for four years rather than just the last two.

“I think if I played all my years in high school, I think I would be a little bit better player,” Fox said. “When I came to watch the games I wished I could be out there.”

With that type of mentality, Fox is a perfect example for anyone out there on the fence about giving football A shot.

“When you pull an athlete out of the hallways, it’s a great feeling,” Bruza said. “I think he enjoyed his time with us. I think it is a good sign for your program.”

It’s also a good sign for anyone at Nanticoke Area who is in the same situation Fox was two years ago.

“I wish I can go back and do it ... wish I could just go back,” Fox said. “I just wish I came out and played earlier.”

H.S. Football: Nanticoke Area downs Hanover Area in Sans Souci Struggle
Jay Monahan  - Times Leader

HANOVER TWP. — By every measure, Nanticoke Area seemed destined to be sent down the Sans Souci Parkway with their heads buried.

The Trojans coughed their only red zone opportunity away with an interception on the first play. The offense was punchless with just three first downs to its credit. Its leading rusher – pretty much the only player with any sort of positive yards – went down with an apparent injury.

A seven-point deficit seemed about as insurmountable as they come.

Nanticoke added extra meaning to the Sans Souci Struggle moniker on Friday night, coming from behind for a 12-7 victory against rivals Hanover Area. The Trojans notched their first victory of the season by overcoming the Hawkeyes with a pair of late touchdowns.

“Once they start believing they could play, a couple of interceptions in key parts of the game, it’s a big rivalry,” Nanticoke Area coach Ron Bruza said. “These kids played with their hearts when they came up here. This game could have gone either way tonight.”

Joe Fox III scored both Nanticoke Area touchdowns, relieving fellow senior Devon Lohmon as the team’s playmaker after an injury. Fox touched the ball three times for 93 rushing yards.

After Aidan Jaskulski ignited the Nanticoke Area offense, Fox made a left cut that fooled a Hanover Area cornerback en route to a 21-yard touchdown with 9:11 remaining. A missed extra point kept the Trojans a point shy of Hanover Area.

Hanover Area converted two plays to help it run down the clock for the remainder of the fourth quarter. Joe Curcio passed the pylons on a fourth-down run. Joseph Wilder kept his feet in bounds on a third-and-long completion that moved the Hawkeyes deep into Nanticoke Area territory. The Trojans defense made a key stand to stymie the Hawkeyes and retain possession with 3:15 on the scoreboard.

On the first play from scrimmage, Fox blazed past the Hanover Area defenders for a 69-yard rushing touchdown that sent the Nanticoke Area students that were watching beyond the fence into an uproar.

“We just went back to Trojan football,” Bruza said. “We were trying to do a little too much, spread them out. Once we were able to pound between the tackles, Fox was able to give us the edge.”

Hanover Area’s fourth quarter comeback chance of its own fell into thin air. Nate Penko recovered a fumble at the Hawkeyes’ 29-yard line. Nanticoke Area grounded the ball to expire the clock.

Just prior to the comeback, Nanticoke Area lineman Jaidyn Johnson deflected a pass up into the air and ran it to the Hanover Area 12-yard line. On the ensuing play, the Hawkeyes’ Aiden Shamaski picked off a pass in the end zone.

Hanover Area scored its lone touchdown when Bobby Sabecky was sent racing for a 55-yard receiving touchdown on a 2nd-and-26 play. Sabecky’s score gave Hanover Area its lead at the 8-minute mark of the first quarter.

Curcio threw for 138 yards and a touchdown for Hanover Area.

Johnson made a fourth down sack to turn over possession deep into Nanticoke Area territory. The Trojans were also able to keep Hanover Area at bay on a late first-half possession that stalled at the 7-yard line.

Gameface 2020: Nanticoke Area Trojans
Steve Bennett-Citizens Voice

After spending the last couple of seasons at Class 4A, Nanticoke Area is back at Class 3A for this two-year cycle.
Even under normal circumstances that would not guarantee success. But this year’s schedule is anything but
normal for teams in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
Two of Nanticoke Area’s first three games are at home, but they are against Williamsport and Crestwood,
 bookending a trip to Lake-Lehman. Near the end of the season, the Trojans travel to Spartan Stadium to take on Valley West before returning home to host Wyoming Area, the defending Class 3A state champion.
“It is definitely going to be a challenge,” Nanticoke Area coach Ron Bruza said. “There is really
 nothing that we can do about it. There are some teams on the schedule this year that we haven’t played in a while.”
The good news for the Trojans is that they will be pretty well equipped to take on the schedule.
 There were years the Trojans were experienced at the skill positions, but lacked experience up front. This year, there is a combination of experience on both ends.
“We have a lot of guys coming back,” Bruza said. “These guys have experience with what they can do. We had a few guys that played positions last year that we didn’t think we would have to put them there. But I am happy with the way they reported for camp. They came in in better shape than I thought they would be in with the pandemic.
“We just have to stay healthy and move forward and keep getting better every day.”

Mike Marcella and Sebastian Kryznewski will be the quarterbacks. Marcella saw plenty of action last year, throwing for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He appeared in eight games.
Joe Fox and Devin Lowman will be the running backs. The fullbacks are Ayden Everett an Nico Czeck. Lohman led the team in rushing last year with 430 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Fox had two receptions out of the backfield for 66 yards and one score.
Sincere Shiloh, Nate Penko and Payton Kepp. Shiloh is clearly the leader of the group and qualifies as another skill position player who has the potential to change a game when the ball is in his hands. Last year, he had seven catches and averaged 15.6 yards per catch.
The tight ends are Jaidyn Johnson and Jonathan Kochanski. Johnson is a freshman, who checks in at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds. At tackle will be Elijah Collison and Brandon Zaremba. The guards are Brandon Brojakowski and Ryan Fisher. The centers are Ryan Wiaterowski and Austin Blank.
Johnson and Collison will be the ends. At tackle will be Henry Sedorchuk and Zaremba.
On the outside are Aidan Jaskulski and Lohman. Playing inside will be Czeck and Fox.
The defensive backs who can either play safety or corner will be Shiloh, Penko, Kepp and Dylan Tuthill. Penko had one interception last year.
Alex Fine is the kicker. Ethan Evanitus is the punter.