ALTOONA, Pa (WTAJ) — Altoona football is one of the few teams who will look back on 2020 with kind words. The Mountain Lions went 4-3, won the district title, a regional game and advanced to states. It was the program’s best season since 2014 when it won eight games. It was the first district title since 2002.
Roster turnover is not a guide, but often the rule in high school sports and the Mountain Lions graduated 25 seniors. The cupboard wasn’t left bare, but will need a bit of restocking. Marcus Day, is the biggest loss on offense. The quarterback threw for 500 yards, and ran for 500 a year ago. Altoona has a couple quarterbacks battling for the job, and will lean more heavily on its running backs.
The defense, however, returns a lot more. While all-state safety Aaron Carothers is gone, the team returns seven starters. Vince Nedimyer Jr., in his third season, sees the defense as the team’s strength. In 2020, the defense turned teams over more than twice per-game, Altoona finished +11 in turnovers at the end.
“We’re not so focused on total yardage and different things like that as a goal, but we just want to get the ball from the other team,” said Nedimyer. “That’s where we had our success was last year, we won the turnover battle in four out of the last five games, and the kids see how big that can be, and that was a big part.”
“Turnovers were a big part of our game toward the end, and we won some on them,” said senior running back/linebacker Ethan Stroup. “Our cornerbacks are ball hawks and it really strengthens our team focusing on those turnovers.”
Altoona opens the year on the road at Hollidaysburg and are licking their chops to play in front of what is likely the best crowd they’ll see all season long.
“Last year we faced the rival Hollidaysburg, and it wasn’t even live in here,” said senior defensive Andre Dokes. “I remember my tenth grade year, I didn’t do much playing, but it was the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of. We can’t wait.”
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