EAST MACHIAS, Maine — During its first season of varsity football, Washington Academy not only won a game, it put together a two-game winning streak.
Second-year coach Barry Terrill believes his team probably could have won a few more games in 2011. He is looking for continued improvement this fall.
“We’d like to improve on that a little bit and get in the playoffs, get a taste of that, and just keep building,” Terrill said.
Washington Academy went into last Friday’s season opener at Bucksport with 34 players on the roster. That includes a cast of 15 upperclassmen.
“We’ve gotten to a point where we’ve got experienced players, which means they’ve been on the field before,” said Terrill, who also has welcomed the program’s first class of freshmen that played on a middle-school team.
Among the go-to players for the Raiders are seniors Tyler Warner and Andrew Farnsworth.
Warner was a first-team All-LTC offensive tackle a year ago. He also is a mainstay at defensive end, where he made 35 tackles.
Farnsworth was the league’s No. 2 receiver (16 receptions, 405 yards, 5 touchdowns) and was the second-team tight end. He also plays defensive back.
“We have some good players, there’s no doubt about that,” Terrill said. “I don’t know if we have the depth yet to compete at the highest level.”
On offense, the Raiders’ biggest challenge is replacing standout quarterback Nick Pineo. Junior Fred McLean, who was the fourth-ranked receiver in the conference (18 rec., 373 yds., 3 TDs) last year, is the heir apparent.
“He’s a good athlete and I think he’s going to be a good run-pass threat,” Terrill said. “I’ve been impressed with the way he’s grasped the offense.”
Washington Academy operates out of a T formation but spreads the field and uses different formations. Sophomore halfback Ellic Smith (89 carries, 298 yds., 1 TD) is the leading returning rusher, while junior fullback Micah McBrine (48-197-4) and senior HBs Andrew Henderson (38-250-1) and Tehon Fox (15-213-4) give the Raiders some weapons and balance.
Sophomore guard Colin Pineo and senior captain Anthony Soto join Warner as keys on the line.
On defense, senior tackle Nick Burrell (37 tackles) and senior ends Warner (35) and Fox (25) anchor the front line. McBrine (30), Pineo and Soto make up the linebacking corps and McLean (28) spearheads the secondary at safety.
Junior Kyle Gallaher, a transfer from Florida, is another piece of the secondary puzzle. WA needs to season some of its sophomore defensive linemen to help cement the middle of the defense.
With eight or nine players going both ways, as is often the case at small schools, avoiding injuries is a must.
“We’re kind of right in that middle pack and games like MCI, Mount View, Dexter and Stearns, those will kind of decide who finishes in that [seeds] four through eight area,” Terrill said.
The Raiders’ opponents are not likely to take them lightly.
WASHINGTON ACADEMY RAIDERS
2011 results: 2-6, 9th LTC
Head coach: Barry Terrill, 2nd year
Key players: Andrew Farnsworth, TE-DB, Sr.; Tyler Warner, OT-DE, Sr.; Fred McLean, QB, Jr.; Micah McBrine, FB-LB, Jr.; Ellic Smith, HB-CB, Soph.; Tehon Fox, HB-DE, Sr.; Colin Pineo, OG-LB, Soph.; Anthony Soto, OC-LB, Sr.; Kyle Gallaher, HB-DB, Jr.
Outlook: The Raiders look to continue building their program. WA has solid overall experience, but must be well conditioned and avoid injuries with most contributors playing both ways. The Raiders hope to contend for one of the eight LTC postseason berths.