Engleka making changes, likes what he sees at Middletown

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Middletown High School football coach Lance Engleka talks about his team after practice Tuesday at Barnitz Stadium.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Lance Engleka would love to see some Middie Magic, preferably sooner than later.

Middletown High School’s new head football coach believes excellence can be achieved, even with the program just 13-27 since its last winning season in 2011.

“That’s not indicative of Middletown teams from a historical perspective or an individual perspective,” Engleka said after putting his squad through three practices Tuesday at Barnitz Stadium.

“I’ve been in a number of different schools and a number of highly successful schools, but the expectations at Middletown far exceed those of any other place I’ve been. Historically, Middletown is a winner. They haven’t been a winner recently.

“People are hungry for that in the community. The players are hungry to prove that to themselves, their families, their community, their teachers, the rest of the (Greater Miami Conference). They’ve got a little chip on their shoulder, and that’s where we want it. We’re going to be an athletic, fast, physical football team.”

Engleka has a mostly new coaching staff and has switched schemes on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, the Wing-T is gone, replaced by a variation of the spread. Defensively, Middletown will use a three-man front — either a 3-4 or a 3-3 stack — instead of the 4-2-5 employed last year by Chris Wells.

“The 10 days that we used during the summer helped us immensely,” said Engleka, who is coaching the quarterbacks and is also the offensive coordinator. “Now we’re revisiting all of that again. The kids have really taken to what it is that we’re doing.”

Juniors Blake Marshall, the returning starter, and Zach Maloney, who suffered a broken hand last season, are battling for the No. 1 quarterback spot. Engleka said both QBs were impressive in a 7-on-7 at Fairmont, and the competition is ongoing.

“Both have a good mastership of the offense,” Engleka said.

He hesitates to use the term “spread” when it comes to his offense.

“You say spread and people will think you’re going to come out and throw the ball 50 times a game,” Engleka said. “We’re always going to be a run-first offense. We like to be balanced run to pass, but you’ve got to establish the run, particularly in our offense, in order to set up the pass. That’s the purpose of the spread.

“We’ve installed kind of a zone read, option type of attack in which we’re trying to utilize sideline to sideline and every vertical aspect of the field that we can. Our skill positions, from an offensive point of view, are our strengths right now.”

He’s looking for returning linemen Ayron Thompson, a nose guard, and Keion Williams, an end, to power the defense. Both are juniors.

Engleka praised assistant Tony Mattia for his work with the Middies’ offensive line. Mattia is also the special teams coordinator.

The rest of the coaching staff includes Alex Frueauf (defensive coordinator), Ayron Thompson (defensive line), Andre McDonald (linebackers), Austin Downing (safeties), Alec Fultz (cornerbacks), Johnny Calhoun (running backs), Kevin Watts (inside receivers) and Frank Frazier (wide receivers).

Middletown, which has a roster in the mid-60s in grades 10 through 12, has scrimmages scheduled for Aug. 9 at Centerville (5:30 p.m.) and Aug. 19 at Sycamore (7 p.m.).

“We’ve had excellent participation during the winter and the spring and the summer in the weight room,” Engleka said. “Kids are showing substantial gains in their lifts, and we’re hoping that it’s going to carry over to the fields on Friday nights.”

Engleka was out of coaching for two years before taking the head job with the Middies. This is his second stint as a head coach — he directed Twin Valley South in 2011 and 2012.

“Alex Frueauf had mentioned how it had been a couple years since he’d coached as well,” Engleka said. “Once you’ve been a coach for a significant amount of time, it’s that old riding a bicycle thing. Kids are kids, football is football, the field is still 100 yards long, so you just go out there and do what you do with them.”

Is there a different feeling returning to the head coaching ranks?

“It’s one of those jobs where you think you’re prepared for it until you actually get into it,” Engleka said. “Then you realize everything that needs to be accomplished, especially with the history and the tradition at Middletown. There’s a lot of responsibility that goes with that. It’s more than just football. It’s an entire community event.”