Northeast Times

Frankford’s finest

Fa­cing the loss of star quar­ter­back Tim Di­Gior­gio as well as de­clin­ing num­bers, Frank­ford faces ques­tions head­ing in­to the sea­son. Luck­ily for the 2012 Pub­lic League champs, head coach Will Dog­gett is still run­ning the show.

  • Tradition of excellence: Frankford head coach Will Doggett looks to reach his third league title game in as many seasons. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Sure hands: After rushing for 12 touchdowns as a junior, running back Damion Samuels is ready for an increased role in Frankford’s offense. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • On the defensive: Standout two-way lineman Kadar Jones (right) takes a breather during a recent scrimmage vs. Imhotep. Frankford will open its season Saturday afternoon at home against Downingtown East. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

Foot­ball, like most oth­er com­pet­it­ive sports, is a num­bers game. 

Will Dog­gett un­der­stands this, as any vet­er­an coach would. However, it’s not ne­ces­sar­ily the num­bers on the score­board or stat sheet that has the Frank­ford head coach’s mind wan­der­ing. In­stead, it’s a dif­fer­ent kind of num­ber, one that could dir­ectly im­pact those fig­ures Frank­ford can put up on of­fense.

“We’re not as deep be­cause we don’t have the usu­al amount of guys com­ing out giv­en all that’s happened with­in the school dis­trict,” said Dog­gett, re­fer­ring to the dis­trict’s fin­an­cial woes that have left the fu­ture of sports in the Pub­lic League cloudy. “Usu­ally, I have about 60 kids that sub­mit for phys­ic­als with 45 to 50 show­ing up. This year, those num­bers have been more like 45 and 30 to 35. 

“This crap go­ing on has killed my num­bers. I’ve been here 12 years and I’ve nev­er had less than 50 kids to open a sea­son. Not only that, but it’s really done a num­ber on the kids, psy­cho­lo­gic­ally. It’s something the Pub­lic League will just have to deal with all sea­son.”

In a Fri­day morn­ing scrim­mage against Im­hotep, Dog­gett saw how chal­len­ging this sea­son could be when cal­cu­lat­ing how to care­fully ro­tate his play­ers in­to the game to keep them as fresh as pos­sible. Already be­set by in­jur­ies to the of­fens­ive line, Dog­gett had no choice but to leave his first-unit line­men out there even after Im­hotep had sent their second string de­fense onto the field.

“Be­cause we aren’t that deep on the line, I didn’t have a choice,” he said. “All in all, I thought the first-stringers did a great job against a very well-coached team with massive num­bers.”

Dog­gett paused, then offered some hu­mor to show that he’s tak­ing the trans­ition in stride.

“I think they (Im­hotep) had about a dozen line­men over 300 pounds … I told them, ‘Man, give me six of those guys and you can have the oth­er six,’” he said with a laugh.

If Dog­gett doesn’t seem pan­icky, it’s be­cause he’s not. After all, in his two sea­sons as head coach, the Pi­on­eers have pos­ted a 17-6 re­cord, which in­cluded a Pub­lic League title in 2012. Dog­gett and his staff know how to eval­u­ate tal­ent, and they know how to win to­geth­er.

On the flip side, Frank­ford has a con­sid­er­able amount of tal­ent to make up for, with all eyes likely be­ing on the start­ing quar­ter­back po­s­i­tion. Now that re­cord-set­ting quar­ter­back Tim Di­Gior­gio and his 4,061 ca­reer passing yards (second most in league his­tory) has gradu­ated, it may take some time for fol­low­ers of the pro­gram to get ac­cus­tomed to someone new un­der cen­ter.

The man for the job is seni­or Mar­quise Po­ston, Di­Gior­gio’s former backup. When Di­Gior­gio had a knee in­jury in 2012, Po­ston stepped up to com­plete 10 of his 15 passes for 146 yards and two TDs. In the scrim­mage against Im­hotep, Po­ston un­furled a beau­ti­ful pass that threaded the needle between two de­fend­ers, hit­ting re­ceiv­er Wydell Compton in stride in­to the end zone for a touch­down.

“Mar­quise has a strong arm and is ex­tremely in­tel­li­gent,” Dog­gett said. “He’s more of a de­fens­ive-minded play­er, but he picks stuff up quick. If we’re im­ple­ment­ing something new, he’s the first guy who gets it right. He has a very high foot­ball IQ.”

An­oth­er play­er to watch is run­ning back Dami­on Samuels, who emerged as a ju­ni­or in rush­ing for 692 yards and 12 TDs in 2012. He will have a much big­ger role in the of­fense this sea­son, and ap­peared to be in fant­ast­ic shape against Im­hotep. 

“He’s go­ing to be very spe­cial this sea­son,” Dog­gett said. “He got a little up­set with me when I took him out. He kept ask­ing, ‘Can I get back in? Can I get back in?’ I had to tell him to sit down and take a chill pill be­cause we don’t want to get him hurt. The great thing about him is that he al­ways wants to be out there.”

Oth­er key re­turn­ers are tal­en­ted line­men Kadar Jones and Unique Dav­is, as well as two-way play­er Quin­ton El­lis, the team’s No. 2 rush­er a sea­son ago.

Frank­ford will open its sea­son Sat­urday af­ter­noon against Down­ing­town East, a team Dog­gett ex­pects to present a chal­lenge, mainly due to — sur­prise, sur­prise — its over­all num­bers.

“Down­ing­town East, I think they’re beat­able, but that’s an­oth­er team that will have about 75 to 80 kids,” Dog­gett told his team after the Im­hotep scrim­mage. “We’ve got what we got. We did a good job, but there’s a lot of work left to do.” ••

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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