BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — Perhaps there is pressure suiting up these days at Rochester Adams.
Two decades ago, Adams had never qualified for the prep football state playoffs. Now, the Highlanders are shooting for their area record 16th straight postseason appearance.
“That’s always a goal,” admitted Adams coach Tony Patritto, who took over the program in 2003. “We can’t avoid saying that. We have high expectations every year, but we know we have a lot work to do.”
Adams will have around 38 players on varsity to work with, as opposed to starting last season with only 32 players. The standouts will still be lining up on both sides of the football again this season.
“That’s nothing new for us,” admitted Patritto. “We always have some of our better guys playing both ways. That will be the case this season, especially early on in the season.”
Adams, which finished 7-4 overall last season and reached the district finals, still has plenty of talent that should keep them in the upper half of the echelon of the OAA White Division.
At quarterback, junior Matt Sokol (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) will be the new signal caller and has already drawn high praise from the coaching staff.
Senior Matt Hart (5-10, 185) and Avery Taylor (5-9, 160), a state qualifier in track, lead the running attack, while senior Jack Twitty (6-1, 180) will be one of the top targets in the passing game. Junior receiver Jordan Shive, another track standout, suffered an injury this summer and may not return.
In the trenches seniors Matt Cobb (6-2, 270) and senior Alex Lang (6-1, 210), a third-year starter, will both play offensive tackle and defensive end. Senior Kyle Niswonger, (6-2, 210) is the top linebacker while he will also spell time as a running back. Senior C.J. Borglin (6-4, 170) leads the secondary and will also play receiver.
There are several first-year players hoping to fill in gaps left by graduation, as all of the Highlanders’ all-league players except Niswonger graduated.
“We have some shoes to fill, but I know we have some good kids,” said Patritto. “We will again play a very tough schedule as our league, the OAA-White, is going to be very strong again a lot like last year. There really aren’t going to be any easy games.
“We will need for the experienced players to show leadership and some of the newer players need to step in an (mature) in a hurry,” added Patritto.
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