Falcons hope strength is in numbers, plus 3 things to know

Salisbury’s biggest blow to the 2022 season was the coaching staff, with three assistants leaving for positions at Northwestern, Pennridge and Florida.

So four full-time coaches, including head coach Andy Serka, have 50 players to work with.

It’s a nice challenge for a program that struggles with roster size every year.

“I don’t think there was a time we had 50,” said Serka, who is in his 11th season. “It’s a combination of a whole bunch of things. It’s been an adjustment for us as coaches to make sure we’re doing the right things the right way to get all the reps in camp and the younger kids learning how to be a high school athlete.”

Some of the newcomers have just entered football. Some of them are new to the sport. But they are needed to provide depth at certain positions and starting spots at others so that the same 11 Falcons never leave the field.

This summer, Serka came up with an idea in his backyard for the best way to develop as many players as possible to be college-ready and maintain interest in the sport.

“We have a net for street hockey and I used to slap myself when I thought about how we always have trouble getting the best 11 to go the whole game. Our roster is usually between 30 and 20 years old. I was thinking about how hockey teams use lines.

“I named four lines after the movie Top Gun — Maverick, Goose, Rooster, Cougar — for the guys who can give us Friday night reruns. We’re going to use something like that in the offense to let the kids know that if they train and execute, they can end up somewhere on the field.”

1. Healthy leaders

Nick Beck returns at quarterback after passing for 644 yards and three touchdowns plus rushing for 708 yards and three scores last year as a junior. He figures to be more effective in 2022 if fellow tight end Josh Brooks is healthy after missing the previous season with a torn preseason scrimmage.

“I’m looking [Brooks] it was tough to go through,” Beck said. “We missed him last year.”

“I’m healthy now, but it sucks,” Brooks said. “It took six months until I started running and was able to do what I wanted. My teammates were always there for me. I was supported by the coaches, the training staff as well.”

When Beck and Brooks are healthy and the Falcons’ depth allows them both to rest defensively, they should be a tough duo for opponents to face.

They are not thrilled to be leaving the field, but understand that Salisbury’s best chance of making the playoffs is for them both to be as close to 100% in every game as possible.

“I like the contact,” Beck said. “It’s not a problem. I find contact.’

That’s where Serka and his staff must find a balance for their senior quarterback.

“Beck wants to play more defense,” Serka said. “He is only in the first group of personnel. He is upset about it. If it was the district championship game, that’s a whole different story.

“He’s one of our top three most aggressive kids, but he’s also our quarterback. I don’t want to collar him, take that part of him away. But we have to be smart.”

2. Other participants

Senior Lucas Graver will be on the field frequently as a wide receiver, cornerback, kicker and punter. Junior Jacob Buchin will also be at wideout. Junior Tyler Williams at running back with Brooks. Senior Jacob Gibbons is in a tight spot.

Senior Toby Lynn is one of three returning starters on the offensive line. He is one of the leaders of the Falcons.

“The Marine Corps is here for summer training,” Serka said. “[Linn] took it all and ran with it. Leadership skills, that’s what it’s all about, about serving others. It’s about other kids doing what they need and getting what they need.”

Senior tackle Carl Dyer and junior center Mander Leonard are the others returning on offense. Senior Ryan Ferrell will also start up front.

Lynn will anchor the Falcons’ defense. In 2021, he had seven tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. George Spahn and rookies Jason St. Leger and Derek Trinidad will also be part of the midfield group.

Senior Josiah Day and freshman Sam Kraus are among those who will be on the defensive line. Gibbons, Bachin, Williams, Sean Donaldson, Zach Bender and Gavin Serka will also play defense.

3. Schedule Salisbury (19:00)

Friday: Panther Valley

September 2: at Saucon Valley

September 9: at Jim Thorpe’s

September 16: Notre Dame GP

September 23: at Tamaqua

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Sept. 30: Northern Lehigh

October 7: at Palmerton

October 14: Pine grove

Oct. 21: North Schuylkill

Oct. 28: At Catasauqua

Morning Call reporter Tom Hausnick can be reached at 610-820-6651 or

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