The Blue Demons want to add the American title of Ches-Mont to their recent successes – Daily Local
KENNETT SQUARE >> In each of the last two full seasons of football, Kennett has averaged 9.5 wins per campaign. This is a level of success never seen before by the Blue Demons program. But one thing is missing: an American Ches-Mont title.
“We want to get to this,” Kennett head coach Lance Frazier said. “That’s the next step.
“It’s definitely in the back of our minds. The kids really want it – they want a banner. We’ve been at a certain level for a few years now, and how do we get to the next level?
Coming off an 8-4 season, Kennett isn’t shy about going for some lofty goals for 22. And with a beefed up inside line, a few elite-level runners and a well-deserved reputation for fielding strong defensive units, who’s to say this isn’t the year?
“We’d like to win the league, win districts and go states,” two-way lineman Connor Tuk said. “We want to go further than any Kennett team has ever gone.
“We are rounder this season. We have a group of returning veterans and new ones ready to play.
There are, however, some challenges. Depth is a constant concern at Kennett, which means most Frazier starters will play both sides of the ball. And then there’s the matter of trying to replace the head coach’s son, Kalen, who was one of the most versatile athletes to ever come out of school.
“We’re still rebuilding just because we’re about 40-50 players down,” Frazier said. “Unionville is only five minutes down the road, and they don’t have the number issues that we have. It’s just something we have to overcome.
“Our off-season conditioning is more important than anything. This group was good with the details, and the older guys did a good job watching the locker room – setting expectations.
Kalen Frazier is now playing in Indiana (Pennsylvania) and his absence has created a big void in the field. He played several attacking positions and was one of the best defensive backs in the region.
“Replacing production for (Kalen), on both sides of the ball, is going to be tough to do,” Frazier said. “But we have been here before. We had the same conversations with guys like Sam Forte and Garrett Cox.
When introducing a new quarterback, much of the initial charge will likely fall on senior rusher Julian Sparacino, who burst onto the scene last fall to gain more than 1,000 rushing yards. He took over the running back role when David Lillis suffered a knee injury mid-season.
“Julian got to work. He raced on track in the offseason to work on his speed and explosiveness,” Frazier said.
“It wasn’t given to me – I had to work for it,” Sparacino added. “I started as a blocking defender last season, and when David Lillis went down it gave me a chance to shine – and I did.”
Now a junior, the speedy Lillis is also back, potentially giving the Demons a scary 1-2 punch. But it may take him some time to fully recover from his injury.
“He’s been cleared and he’s definitely going to be a weapon for us,” Frazier said.
“It’s going to be like thunder and lightning. It’s a great two-man tandem to have in the backfield. When he’s ready, we wait for him to jump.
Whoever carries the ball will have a group of veteran blockers in front of him. The anchor is the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Tuk, a tackler who has had a great offseason. Senior center Scrappy Ryan King is also back, and junior guard John Pardo is also a wrestling star.
“(Pardo) is athletic enough to carry the ball and maybe catch it too,” Frazier said.
The rest of the unit includes sophomores Kaden Kise and Jacob Thompson, who are projected as future stars.
“It’s the most veteran group we have, and the biggest in size and number,” Frazier said. “We are the most committed and this is our most committed group. And this is where football begins and ends.
That’s all good news for projected senior quarterback Brett Kauffman. He transferred from Malvern Prep a year ago but was injured for much of the 2021 season.
“He’s trying to understand what we’re doing, and he’s shown promise in camp,” Frazier said. “He’s a leader, a vocal guy, and he wants to be at the helm. His teammates love him.”
The team’s biggest question mark is with the receiving corps. Legacy players like wide Jackie Good (Jr.) and tight end Colin Jung (Sr.) are in the mix, as is senior Josh Barlow in the slot.
The defense goes by many of the same names, and again, the force is up front. With Tuk and Pardo on the inside, Jung and senior Luke Finfrock on the edge, Kennett’s defensive line is formidable.
“It’s a solid group,” Frazier said. “I feel good with them. They will be the strength of our team.
King, Sparacino and Barlow are the linebacking headliners, and the secondary will include new corners in Good and second Xavier McGreal (So.), with senior Ty McMillan at safety.
“We’re going to move defense and come to you,” Frazier said. “These guys have faith in what we’re doing.”
Another team strength is on special teams. Senior kicker Ryan Barker has already committed to Penn State and will also handle punting duties.
“Historically, Kennett hasn’t been good on special teams,” Frazier admitted. “We spent a lot of time there and our guys are proud of it.
“(Barker) is going to be a game-changer for us, both reversing position on the pitch and putting points on the board. We expect a lot of touchdowns on kickoffs and a lot of field-changing punts in addition to field goals.
It will be the fifth year under Frazier, who has transformed the program from perennial loser to contender for the top echelon.
“It was the first offseason where the guys were doing even more lifting and conditioning than what was assigned by the coaches,” Tuk pointed out.
“Opponents actually take us more seriously now. Instead of scheduling us for Homecoming, they better get ready for us.
Friday, August 26 – at Upper Dublin, 7 p.m.
Friday, September 2 – vs. Oxford, 7 p.m.
Friday, September 9 – at West Chester Henderson, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16 – vs. West Chester Rustin, 7 p.m.
Friday, September 23 – at Downingtown East, 7 p.m.
Fri, Sept. 30 — at Interboro, 7 p.m.
Friday, October 7 — c. Unionville, 7 p.m.
Friday, October 14 – at West Chester East, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 21 – vs. Sun Valley, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 28 – vs. Great Valley, 7 p.m.