ALTER KNIGHTS Division III, Region 12 Head Coach: Ed Domsitz (178-52 @ Alter, 19 years, 264-135 overall record, 35 years) 2011 Record: 10-1, 7-0
Overview: It was the best of times and the worst of times for Alter in 2011. The Knights finished the regular season only to be dumped in the first round of the playoffs. That bittersweet taste has left this group of seniors hungry to prove their place in the programís history.
Itís not very often that you see a Division III school with three offensive players having offers to play major college football before the opening of a season. Alter can boast of that accomplishment heading into 2012. Quarterback Malik Zaire has verbally committed to Notre Dame after a junior season that saw him run for 1,093 yards, pass for 729 more while rushing for 15 touchdowns and tossing five more. He will get protection up front by Ben Place, Ben Foppe, Cody Collins who has verbally committed to Marshall, and tight end Greg Hart, who recently verbally committed to Nebraska. Hart and Second Team All-GCL North receiver Conner Vanatta will be Zaireís primary targets in the passing game. The ground game is what fuels this wishbone attack and the Knights have a stable of capable backs. Tommy Ruff, classmate Tyler Hudson, seniors Danny Smith, Jackson Vandergriff and Mitchell Burnette will all have their time to shine. Finding the end zone will not be a problem with that group that combined for 836 yard on 121 carries (6.9/carry) and nine touchdowns as bit players in 2011.
The defense isnít big, but they can bring waves of players at opponents in the box. Speed out of the foesí backfield and poor tackling is what was ultimately ended Alterís season last fall and with a basically a brand new secondary it will be up to the linemen and linebackers play at a high level early on. Head coach Ed Domsitz will bring pressure from the ends and stuff the line as much as possible with Andrew Verdegauer, Andrew Esselstein, Lane Breyer, Joe Kraemer and Travis McAfee. Linebacker Joe Manfreda had an awesome varsity debut, recording 94 total tackles on his way to Second Team All-GCL-North honors as a sophomore. He will be joined by Alan Masline and Chris LeComte, who the team is expecting big things from. Alter allowed 201 yards rushing per contest over their last six outings after yielding just 81 in their first five games to start 2011. The Knights need to show more stamina and strength if they want to bring home their fifth regional title in the last seven years.