After winning the District 2 Class 4A championship in 2020, Crestwood took a step back last season. The Comets have won just three games, suffering their first losing season since coach Ryan Arcangeli took over the program in 2019.
Archangel knew who to blame.
“We were a scrappy group last year and that falls on me for not making our team a united front,” Arcangeli said. “That’s all we’ve been preaching and flipping through all offseason. Now we are more together than ever.”
Crestwood has plenty of newcomers capable of putting last season behind them and getting the program back on track.
ON THE COVER
The Comets found something on offense when they moved quarterback Noah Schultz four games into the season. Schultz topped 1,000 yards on the ground, including a 302-yard performance against Abington Heights.
“He’s a natural athlete and I think running back is a great fit for him,” Arcangeli said. “It allows him more versatility in attack. It allows him to shine in all the skill sets that he has.”
Sophomore James Barrett also figures to get some of the workload. Fullbacks Lincoln Bibla and Logan Rawls will be the blockers.
Crestwood will have the youngest starting quarterback in the WVC in freshman Jayden Shedlock, who Arcangeli believes has a very bright future.
“He’s good,” Arcangeli said. “You will know a lot about him.”
The group of wideouts — Brandon Dennis, Josh Hilp, Robert Knight and Nick Miscavage — didn’t put up numbers last season when the Comets struggled to shoot the ball, but they’re experienced. So is tight end Magnus Bibla, who will be joined by Zach Shelosky. Both are a good size.
Up front, senior tackle Aidan Jardine is considered one of the best linemen in the WVC. Alex Yaskiewicz will be another tackle. John Jones and Chris Smolenak will be the guards and Andrew Lenahan will be the center.
The unit’s performance was mixed last season. He posted two shutouts and held another opponent to six points. On the other hand, he has given up 28 or more points six times. The talent is there to topple the latter, especially with nine returning starters.
Four-year starter Cole Kakaleczyk will anchor the linebacker group. He was second on the team in tackles last season with 72. Lincoln Bibla is another experienced linebacker with 46 tackles. Rawls, Michael Antosh, Mason Girton and Eli Meadows will also see time at the position.
Magnus Bibla and Jardine are coming off strong seasons on the defensive front. Biblo had a team-high 63 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and three sacks. Jardine made 48 tackles. Jones and Smolenak will also start up front. Yaskiewicz, Sheloski and Logan Price will provide depth in the rotation.
The secondary is deep and experienced but only recorded one interception last season. Knight was the leading tackler with 64. Dennis, Hilp, Miscavage, Schultz, Colin Lazo, Jason Swank and Matthew Sklarosky will also play in the deep patrol. A nice aspect of the group is that it is a mix of seniors and juniors, which means Crestwood should be in good shape in 2023.
Crestwood faces an important test against Valley View, a team that beat the Comets twice last season by the same score of 38-7. Then comes Dallas and Wyoming, followed by four straight games against big schools.
The regular season closes with rebuilding Hanover, followed by D2-4A title contenders Berwick and North Pocono. In short, the schedule is tough and perhaps the toughest from top to bottom in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
The Comets, however, learned a lot about themselves last season, and if those lessons are applied, they should find themselves in an eight-team D2-4A postseason.