Despite a winless 2009 campaign, Lincoln's players and coaches are
bursting with optimism about the potential that lies ahead in 2010.
If there was a silver lining to 2009, it's that the 2010 Railers are
"I think coming off of the winless season will actually help us,"
said senior Jordan Sandrolini. "We probably won't be one of the
biggest teams, but I really think we'll have one of the biggest
hearts of any team when we step on the field."
The main source of coach Jared Shaner's optimism appears to be an
offense with a surplus of playmakers.
Taking snaps at quarterback will be James Leisinger, who had a
strong finish to the 2009 campaign.
Leisinger will have a number of options at receiver, led by Darvez
Stancle, who led the team in yards and receiving touchdowns last
season. Stancle will be joined by converted quarterback Stephen
Duncan, Brant Summers and Austin Kirby in the receiving core.
Shaner also believes he has multiple explosive options in the
Running backs Moses Rogers, Brendan Fitzsimmons, Andy Krusz, Jordan
Sandrolini and Garrett Cooper are all returning letter winners who
are expected to get carries. Newcomer Chris Rufus is also expected
to figure in the mix.
The variety of weapons on offense has Shaner excited.
"I feel like we have five or six or seven running backs who I can
give the ball to and be comfortable," said Shaner. "The past couple
years, I've had some very solid running backs. … There's always that
one solid running back every year and then after that, some role
"This year, I feel like we have any number of kids. It's a good
thought for a coach to have, that you have a lot of kids you want to
touch the ball seven, eight or nine times a game."
The talent is there, but execution will be the key.
"If everybody does their assignment, there's no stopping our
offense," said Leisinger. "Football is a game of big plays. If
people do their jobs, there will be big plays."
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The difference in the offense and the defense is experience.
In some games last season, the Railers started as many as 10 seniors
on defense. Only defensive linemen Tedarion Carter and Sawyer
Conrady saw extensive time on defense last season.
But Shaner has taken the approach that inexperience is not an
excuse for his defense.
"It's a concern," said Shaner. "But what we've told the kids is
that when we went to an Illinois State University team camp this
year and did seven-on-seven things, we said, 'You're a junior in high
school. You've played football five, six or seven years. Inexperience can't
be an excuse.'
"We got good experience at the ISU camp. We had a good time. But
hopefully, coaching the kids in week one, it'll be a good
atmosphere for them. Once the kids are out there and the whistle
blows, football is football."
Krusz, who is expected to see extended time at linebacker for
the Railers, says the defensive concepts are coming to the group
of underclassmen quickly.
"Right now, we're dropping back to different coverages to
protect the pass," said Krusz. "We've got some pretty big
tackles with Sawyer and Tedarion. We've got some aggressive
linebackers who can fly around. Our corners, if they do their
assignments, I think can be one of the best groups in the
Central State Eight."
The Railers believe that, if all goes according to plan, the
potential exists to snap a 30-year playoff drought.
"I feel like we're a playoff team," said Leisinger. "It's really
hard in our conference, with us being one of the smaller
"But I feel like if everybody does their job, we can be one of
those playoff teams."
[By JUSTIN TIERNEY]