(Statistical Information Courtesy of NWPASports.com archives)


Head Coach: Brandon Phillian, 5th year (42-7)
Last Year: 7-3 overall, advanced to District 10 Class 2A championship game


By Joe Sager, NWPASports.com Senior Contributor

Wilmington hopes its growing pains – at least most of them – are over.

After starting a bevy of sophomores in key positions last season, the Greyhounds just couldn’t match experienced Farrell’s firepower in the District 10 Class 2A race. The Steelers topped Wilmington twice, once in Region 3 and the second time for the D-10 title, which ended the ’Hounds’ run of five straight crowns.

Now, that inexperience has morphed into experience and energized Wilmington heading into the 2022 campaign.

“The experience gained by our underclassmen is extremely important; it’s really worth its weight in gold,” Wilmington coach Brandon Phillian said. “Watching that sophomore class last year, we could see them growing before our eyes. By the end of their sophomore years, they seemed like juniors. We expect that group to pick up where it left off.”

That group’s maturation is key for the ’Hounds, who have a surprisingly small four-member senior class in Michel Chrastina, Ty Milliron, Davis Phanco and Joe Saterlee. While the number is small, it has the influence of a legion.

“I am very pleased with the leadership from our seniors this year,” Phillian said. “They are a pleasure to coach. All have great attitudes and give great effort. I think they offer a great model for the younger players to follow.”

Once again, quarterback Tuff McConahy is set to direct the team’s attack. The junior passed for 720 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021. “Last year’s experience is invaluable for him. He did a great job as a sophomore,” Phillian said. “Now, as a junior, he is so much more comfortable with the offense and he has taken a leadership role with the offense. We believe he will have a great season for us this year.”

Wilmington graduated its top two rushers in Luke Edwards (1,130 yards) and Gage DeCaprio (507). However, Ben Miller (327) and Tyler Mikulin (110) return. Buddah Book, Phanco and Milliron could all see carries or catch passes as well in the squad’s Wing-T offense.

“I think we’re very fortunate to have Ben Miller and Tyler Mikulin back as starters from last year,” Phillian said. “Those two, along with the other guys, are very versatile and have different abilities. We expect to use them in the passing game and they do a great job blocking and faking, which is important in our offense.”

Chrastina returns at tight end, too. “We think that experience will serve him well,” Phillian said. “We’ll look to him in the blocking game, but also as a receiving threat as well.”

Up front, juniors Rocky Serafino and Carter Horkovy anchor the offensive line. “They have done a great job and taken the next steps forward. They had solid seasons as sophomores, but they’ve really elevated their play,” Phillian said. “We’re looking for strong seasons from those two individuals in their junior campaigns.”

Willie Moore and Will Brucker are two more who will see significant time on line, in addition to others battling for time. “With our offense, we stay true to our Wing-T roots, but I think we show a lot of versatility as well,” Phillian said. “We expect a versatile, flexible offense.”

Defensively, Wilmington welcomes back six starters. Serafino and Horkovy are back to anchor the defensive line and Moore saw a lot of time there as well. Chrastina, Mikulin and Miller return as starting linebackers. Phanco, Book, Milliron and McConahy are in the secondary for the ’Hounds Hammer.

“The big thing for us, defensively, from a year ago is to improve on some fundamentals. We need to make sure we’re sound in our tackling and assignments as well as our communication – how well we communicate pre-snap and post-snap,” Phillian said. “That’s something I’ve been very pleased with, thus far. It an area where we’re looking to grow. The fact that so many guys are a year older should lead to more effective and efficient communication.”

Overall, Phillian is pleased with his squad’s approach. “Our biggest strength is how well they are coming together as a team,” he said. “We believe it’s a group that’s jelling each and every day on the field. Their togetherness and way they are with one another is huge. I think it’s a team full of high-character young men who come to the field with the right attitude and work ethic every day. They are a real pleasure to work with and coach each and every day.”

Wilmington looks forward to the Region 3 gauntlet against fellow Class 2A entrants Farrell, Sharpsville and Greenville, in addition to Class 3A programs Grove City, Hickory, Sharon and Slippery Rock. “There’s no easy game on our schedule,” Phillian said. “That’s a challenge the coaches and players are so excited about. Not only are we going to have fans from both the home and away schools at these games, but we think we may have just local football fans show up to watch these games. We’re excited to be a part of this region and league. I would take D-10 Region 3 and put it up against any region in the state.”