New Castle & Hooker prepare for season without Stone & Farah

New Castle will meet Aliquippa in week one.

New Castle Hurricanes High School Football

2017 New Castle Football Preview
Head Coach: Joe Cowart, 6th season (28-23)
Last Season: 8-5 (6-2), 3rd place in Northwest 9
Classification: AAAA

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 58.3% (60-43)
Playoff Appearances: 7
Playoff Record: 5-7
Region Championships: 1 (2008)
Region Record: 42-30

More:High School Football previews from other teams

2016 Results
Thomas Jefferson 42 Hurricanes 0*
Hurricanes 38 Ringgold 17*
Hurricanes 51 South Fayette 43*
Hurricanes 35 Blackhawk 13
Ringgold 41 Hurricanes 27
Hurricanes 42 Knoch 14
South Fayette 37 Hurricanes 13
Mars 34 Hurricanes 7
Hurricanes 54 Indiana 16
Hurricanes 54 Ambridge 0
Hurricanes 29 Highlands 26
Hurricanes 26 Montour 13
Aliquippa 44 Hurricanes 28
*-Post-Season

2016 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 31.1 (14th in Area)
Total Offense: 324.1
Passing Offense: 121.5
Rushing Offense: 202.6
Scoring Defense: 26.2 (37th in Area)
Total Defense: 310.2
…The Hurricanes’ offense has eclipsed 25-points per game in each of the last ten seasons.

The Good News
Returning Starters: Offense 6; Defense – 8
New Castle has advanced to the WPIAL playoffs in each of the past four years. Playmaker Marcus Hooker is back for his senior campaign at his running back position. Hooker ran for 808 yards and scored 10 times on the ground. He also caught 17 passes for 363 yards (21.4 avg) and 6 touchdowns. Hooker also played a key role on defense from his free safety spot as he was involved in 76 defensive stops. Senior cornerback Freddy Soto picked off a pair of passes and tallied 69 tackles. Junior Matt Senchak leads the group of linebackers into the 2017 season after registering 93 tackles. He’ll be alongside the likes of seniors K-Ci Booker (38 tackles, 2 sacks) and Tre Epps. Along the defensive line, the Hurricanes return three starters upfront who established themselves at the line of attack in Devin Sams (42 tackles, 4 sacks), Gino Cioppa and Jason Montgomery. “We have a real strength on defense with 8 returning starters,” says coach Joe Cowart. “We will look to stop opponents at a high rate on the defensive side of the ball.” On offense, Epps is welcomed back at tight end while Sams will be the team’s blocking back ahead of Hooker. The offensive line returns three starters with center Nick Papa, and guards Cioppa and Booker back in the mix.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 26 – at Aliquippa, 7:30
Sept. 1 – Montour, 7
Sept. 8 – at Highlands, 7
Sept. 15 – at Ambridge, 7
Sept. 22 – Indiana, 7
Sept. 29 – at Mars, 7
Oct. 6 – South Fayette, 7
Oct. 13 – Knoch, 7
Oct. 20 – at Ringgold, 7
Oct. 27 – Blackhawk, 7

The Bad News
Even though New Castle won 62% of their games a year ago, the Hurricane defense allowed an average of 310 yards and 26 points per outing. New Castle’s defense has allowed an average of 24 points per game to be scored in each of the last six years. The Hurricanes’ lose their top two tacklers from last season’s WPIAL Quad A finalist team in Giovanni Eggleston and Geno Stone. Eggleston finished the season with 106 tackles and 3 quarterback sacks. Stone intercepted an area-high 10 passes and stopped 96 ball carriers. Stone was the ultimate playmaker on offense as he threw for 1447 yards and 17 touchdowns while closing out the contest as the team’s second leading rusher with 688 yards and 14 TDs. Stone’s favorite target also graduated in Garrett Farah – 25 catches, 739 yards (29.6 avg) and 7 touchdowns. On defense, Farah intercepted a pair of passes. “We will need to prepare our inexperienced players,” remarks Cowart. “We’ll have to get them to replace the offensive production we had from our departed seniors”. Marshane McElroy helped in every facet of the game by throwing for 132 yards on 2 completions (2 passing attempts), running for another 237 yards (9.9 avg), catching 13 passes for 135 stripes and also intercepting 2 tosses by opposing signal callers. Dealamar Matthews (62 tackles) and Kymani Summers (40 tackles) also have since graduated as well.

Key Number
Last year, New Castle won their first post-season game since 2009.

Featured Stat
Seven defenders a year ago finished with 38 tackles or more and had either multiple quarterback sacks or interceptions:
Giovonni Eggleston – 106 tackles, 3 QB sacks
Geno Stone – 96 tackles, 3 QB sacks, 10 INTs
Freddy Soto – 69 tackles, 2 INTs
Garrett Farah – 45 tackles, 2 INTs
Marshane McElroy – 42 tackles, 2 INTs
Devin Sams – 42 tackles, 4 QB sacks
K-Ci Booker – 38 tackles, 2 QB sacks

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