Young Windham team faces toughest test

For many high school football teams throughout the area, having a young team typically equals a rebuilding or reloading-type of season. The kind of season that may not include the playoffs, and is more of a learning experience to set a program up for success over the next two or three years.

But, that’s not how they do things in Windham. The Bombers went 6-4 in 2015, their best mark since 2006, and narrowly missed the postseason. For 2016, second-year coach Anthony Maiorca had his hands full with a program that featured 33 players, about two-thirds of which were sophomores or younger.

Combine that with the fact that the coaches had to install an entirely new playbook for this team coming into the season, and that their quarterback was a freshman, and most outsiders would probably tell you that this team was destined to fail.

Instead, the Bombers are 7-3, seeded fifth in Division VII, Region 25, and will travel to Monroeville Saturday night.

“It felt good to get in,” Maiorca said. “I was pretty surprised, but we have a great group of kids. I told them, ‘You can’t be young forever.’ “

That youth movement is led by the aforementioned freshman quarterback, Blaze Angle. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound signal caller has thrown for 1,181 yards with 14 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

According to Maiorca, playing against older, more mature players forced Angle to concentrate on fundamentals, as opposed to using his natural athleticism, like he had in the past.

“He’s (Angle) grown up a lot (this season),” Maiorca said. “He’s one of those kids that was always good at sports. This year has been a learning process for him, but he’s done a great job.”

The key to this young team’s success is the offensive line, according to Maiorca. While Angle has done a nice job through the air, the Bombers run a Wing-T offense, making the running game the biggest x-factor to the team’s run to a postseason birth.

In 10 games thus far, Windham has rushed for 2,755 yards and 34 touchdowns, which includes 1,203 yards and 15 scores from Phillip Maiorca. Besides Maiorca, who also has 13 catches for 302 yards (23.2 average), Hunter Shackelford has 917 yards and 12 scores, while Jamario Brown has contributed 391 yards on just 66 carries.

While Windham has been impressive so far, their trip to Monroeville will be their biggest test of the season. Coach Maiorca said he doesn’t know a lot about the Eagles (9-1), but he did say that they’re a tough team playing in a tough conference.

For the youth movement to go forward another week, Anthony Maiorca believes that his Bombers will have to show better intensity.

“One thing that stands out about Monroeville is that they play with that (intensity) every game,” Maiorca said. “We’re still a young team and our nerves still hold us back, but honestly, we’re a really good football team when we put it all together. We just haven’t put it all together, yet.”