ALLENTOWN – The talented junior quarterback and running back duo of Luke Wiedau and Daniel Cruz are back to lead the way for the Allentown High School football team, which will open the 2022 season on Sept. 2 against Notre Dame High School of Lawrenceville.
Coach Andrew Lachenmayer has been impressed with the growth of both players entering the season and believes their continued development will help lead his young group of Redbirds to some success this fall.
“I am looking forward to a competitive season,” Lachenmayer said. “Our goal as a young group is to progress one game at a time. I think we can be competitive against any team we go up against on our schedule.”
The Redbirds will compete in the West Jersey Football League Valley Division and meet Steinert, Hightstown, Robbinsville, Lawrence and the West Windsor-Plainsboro United Team.
In 2021, Wiedau passed for 733 yards and rushed for 533 yards. He totaled 11 touchdowns in his first season under center for the Redbirds.
Having not played quarterback until he entered high school in 2020, Wiedau looks more comfortable at the position entering his junior year, said Lachenmayer.
Cruz has been a key part of the offense during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. As a sophomore, he rushed for 703 yards and six touchdowns.
Cruz and senior Parker Schloss will be the leaders of the defense at linebacker.
Senior cornerback Ray Gooley will anchor the secondary.
Lachenmayer said the coaching staff has seen “huge growth” from Gooley on the field during the preseason and is looking forward to what he can bring to the table this season.
Other returnees include junior defensive lineman Ryan Pegano, senior left tackle Devin Leiggi and sophomore offensive lineman Christian Macaluso.
There will be many new faces filling other positions, especially at wide receiver. The all-sophomore group features Matt Woode, Sean McCaffery, Nicholas Colella and Anthony Visconti.
Lachenmayer believes his wide receivers, along with the combination of Wiedau and Cruz, can make for an exciting offense.
“We definitely have a lot of weapons and speed (on offense),” Lachenmayer said. “I am very eager to see how we play this season.”
Of the 40 players on the Redbirds’ varsity roster, 26 players are freshmen or sophomores.
In addition, the freshman team has 34 players, which is the most of any freshman team Lachenmayer has seen since he began coaching in the program during the 2010-11 season.
Lachenmayer said a lot of the freshman participation stems from the success the Allentown Pop Warner program has had during the past few years.
The high school and Pop Warner programs have worked closely together in recent years, said Lachenmayer, who hopes that relationship can build to the point where Allentown will have more success at both levels going forward.
“It is important to have a firm tie with the local Pop Warner program. It can help get more kids to play in high school and help them be better players when they get to high school,” the coach said.