"The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one is watching." -Anson Dorrance, from his book The Vision of a Champion
Pennsylvania's Middletown High School lies in the shadow of Three Mile Island, the site of the United States' most infamous partial nuclear meltdown in 1979. Gridiron diehards in this football-radioactive community regard last season's two-win campaign as a near-catastrophic disaster.
Head coach Rob Deibler had tremendous success at his alma mater, Steel High School, where he won the state title in 2009 behind Penn State All-American defensive lineman Jordan Hill. Deibler got the Middletown job late last year and couldn't implement his full game plan and strategies he had planned for the Blue Raiders.
With the regular season scheduled to kick off on August 31 versus rival Lower Daulphin, this offseason has been different. A full schedule of preparations including three-a-days that just wrapped up this week, and Two-a-days that will run all next week before the normal pre-game practice routine, is implemented.
The grueling pace is right up junior Mel Fager III's alley. He had a busy summer preparing for the upcoming kickoff. He trekked to Happy Valley for both the Nittany Lions Advanced Skills and 3-Day Camp. He followed that up with a one-day combine at The University of Delaware.
The versatile six-foot star is one of several major college prospects on the Middletown squad. Fager averaged over 23 yards a catch on 10 receptions as a wideout, while averaging 42 yards a punt as a sophomore. He is regarded as a solid defender as the team's starting free safety and will likely handle placekicking duties as well. He does everything except sell popcorn at the refreshment stand at half time.
"We are a better conditioned group than a year ago. Coach (Deibler) has been able to implement his entire game plan for us. I've been able to get quality practice reps at all wide receiver positions. I'm excited about the spread offense and the progress of our senior quarterback Jared Truesdale," stated Fager.
Others to watch for on the Middletown roster include juniors Nick Drawbaugh (OL/DL) and Chris Hollanam (RB).
All quotes were obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted.