There is a lot to be said about carryover. In some sports, when a team reaches the pinnacle or in the case of high school football, the state final, some would say there could be a hangover effect. When you make the championship game that means the season went 16 weeks long of games, one week of summer practice and the one week of heat acclimatization workouts and that means your season went 122 days from start to finish.
At Lackawanna Trail, though, the Lions looked like they were eager to get right back at it this season.
What the Lions are attempting to accomplish would be short of a miracle for Lackawanna Football Conference teams. No team that reached the final has returned the following year.
Eight months ago, Richard Rodenbach took a knee, cupped his head in his hand and wiped away the sweat and tears.
An unforgettable season ended abruptly on the chilly turf at Hersheypark Stadium with a loss to Farrell in the PIAA Class 1A championship game.
Although Lackawanna Trail lost in its first appearance in a state final, Rodenbach and his teammates enjoyed the roller-coaster ride.
Now, the senior center is turning the page onto a second quest. One that started this week, and continued Wednesday on the third morning of heat acclimatization practices.
“Obviously, it was really memorable. It brought the whole community together,” Rodenbach said. “It was just a great experience, because all the kids that are coming back this year all have that under their belt now, and we know how to play at a high level.”
As a junior, Rodenbach anchored Lackawanna Trail’s offensive line as the group paved the way for the Lions running game that averaged more than 300 yards rushing per game.
“What a great teammate,” Jervis said. “Get’s along with the kids so well. One of our leaders. Kids look up to him. Hard-working kid in the offseason.
“We knew coming in as a sophomore, he had a lot of potential. He started that year and has grown ever since. Great year in the weight room. He is about 225 and we are expecting him to be one of our anchors up front.”
Rodenbach and Mark Dunckle return to the Lions line, which will be counting on three fresh faces to fill in the voids created by graduation.
The players competing for those spots have good size and agility, but are inexperienced, just as Rodenbach was two years ago as a sophomore when he depended on the seasoned players to guide him.
Now, that’s his responsibility now and one he accepts.
“Each year, I had different seniors who took me under their wings, and really helped me out and taught me,” Rodenbach said. “Now that I am a senior, and a veteran player, all the seniors really, need to teach the younger guys how to handle different situations and be ready to play at a high level.”
He added, “Obviously, we lost a lot of great players, but we have a lot of good, strong players coming back. And we have a lot of really good young players that will be coming up that I think will really step it up and be great for us.”