Head coach Chuck Kassick said the Flood City Thunder will begin its second Greater Eastern Football Association season with more experience and structure than the eight-man, semiprofessional squad had during last summer’s inaugural season.
The Thunder will host the Jefferson County Jaguars at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
“I think both teams are improved and both teams will be ready to go in Week 1,” said Kassick, a first-year head coach. “It should be fun.”
The Thunder will try to improve on a 1-6 season with the lone victory coming via a forfeit. The Jaguars went 2-5, including a 22-21 victory over the Thunder in the team’s first game at the Point.
Kassick will work with defensive coordinator Steve Niel and assistant coach Wayne Jones on the Thunder’s new coaching staff. All three are former area standout players, with Kassick graduating from Ferndale Area in 1997, Jones from Bishop McCort High School in 2007, and Niel from Richland High School in 1996.
New General Manager Quenteen Robinson is a Greater Johnstown High School graduate and a former indoor football standout who played on every Johnstown arena football squad. Robinson, 43, also will play for the Thunder.
“Defensively, we’ve got some zone and man mixed coverages,” Kassick said. “We’ve got a lot of movement in the defensive backfield.
“Matt Speed, who was a player/coach last year, plays safety,” Kassick added. “He’s the quarterback of that defense. Eight-man football is a little different. The safety is a big part of it. He calls a lot of things out. Matt was our only all-league player last year.”
Offensively, the Thunder had been set to rely on returning quarterback Wuanyai Mayo until an injury sidelined the former Greater Johnstown player for several weeks, Kassick said.
Bishop McCort Catholic graduate Levi Cook and K’Shawn Powell of Fort Hill High, a powerhouse program in Cumberland, Maryland, will share quarterback duties.
“They’ll be catalysts,” Kassick said.
“We’re trying to go uptempo. We want to move the ball quickly,” he added. “We want to get into our formation quickly. We want to get our play off quickly. We have some spread concepts, but we have some old-fashioned ground game working beside it.”
Shareef Blough, a Forest Hills High School graduate, and Trey Andrews of Greater Johnstown each will start in the backfield.
“I like what Shareef can do with the ball in his hands,” Kassick said. “Trey Andrews is good with the ball too, and we count on him on both sides of the ball.”
The quarterbacks will have multiple targets with big-play capability.
“Roderick (Duke) Rosiek is another Johnstown kid who has really stepped into the receiver spot,” Kassick said. “He runs good routes and finds a way to get open. He’s explosive. Isaish Dawkins, Te’Shon Tisinger, all three of those guys, I love their work in space.”
Kassick said Johnstown’s Eddie Simms will be “an anchor” on the offensive line. He noted Bishop McCort Catholic’s Chaz Merriman and Windber’s Josh Horner “are two local kids who will create pressure off the edge.”