Outlook: Lenny Abt spent last season as the interim coach of the Arcadia football team following Jim Ellison’s resignation in August. Once the year ended, his assistants were anxious to roll out new schemes, but Abt had to pull the reins back a bit.
“As we’re going through the process, my coaches are like, ‘When we can get together?’ Abt said. “I told them, ‘Well, let’s make sure I get the job first.’”
The Arcadia administration went through a formal job search in the spring and eventually chose Abt. Now he has the permanent tag of coach attached to his name and he’s ready to put his imprint on the program.
“As soon as the (interim) label came off, we got right after it,” Abt said.
The Titans began 2012 with a 3-1 record but dropped four of their final five games and missed the playoffs. The schedule is easy this season and nine starters return on defense, which means a return to the state tournament is a realistic expectation.
The defense has moved to a 4-2-5 scheme after using a 3-3-5 last year. All-City honoree Collin Palecek is the top defender after compiling 116 tackles and eight interceptions a year ago. Caden Williams will add to a stout secondary.
Pete Campbell split time at quarterback with Payson Kendle a year ago and will now be the full-time starter. Juniors Fisihea Mau and Shane Williamson showed good potential in the backfield last season and will share rushing duties this season. The receiving corps will be all new, but Abt likes the team’s potential.
Arcadia’s schedule strength isn’t expected to help come playoff time, so the team knows it must rack up the wins to position itself for a state tournament berth, especially in a crowded Division II. Abt said the Titans won’t spend too much time thinking about it.
“We try to take it one week at a time,” he said. “We know it’s not going to be easy. Who knows? It might take a 9-1 that gets us in or an 8-2. We want to go in and try to win every game, then however the chips fall, they fall.”
Division II, Section VII
Coach: Lenny Abt
Last year’s record: 4-6, missed Division III postseason
Returning Starters: 5 on offense/9 on defense
Top returners: DB Collin Palecek (116 tackles, 8 INT); RB Fisihea Mau; RB/DB Andrew Andrade; DB Caden Williams; OL Tyler Richards (3-year starter).
Aug. 30 at Copper Canyon; Sept. 6 vs. Shadow Mountain; Sept. 12 vs. Camelback; Sept. 20 at Maricopa; Sept. 27 vs. North Canyon; Oct. 4 at Paradise Valley; Oct. 11 vs. Chaparral; Oct. 18 vs. Notre Dame; Oct. 25 at Independence; Nov. 1 at Cactus Shadows.
Oct. 4 at Paradise Valley: The Titans have a soft early schedule, but it picks up with Paradise Valley, Chaparral and Notre Dame in order. The Trojans have some impact skill players but likely won’t be as deep as Arcadia. If Arcadia can establish its running game, a win is there for the taking.
Oct. 18 vs. Notre Dame: These two teams have played many times in the past but didn’t in the most recent two-year block. The Saints aren’t projected to be as good as they were the past few seasons, and an upset by the Titans would definitely be one of the season’s signature wins.