Development of linebackers key for Huntingdon

Linebackers Karl Dorn (#20) and Mal Caldwell (#4) were two of the Hawks' top-four tacklers last season.
Linebackers Karl Dorn (#20) and Mal Caldwell (#4) were two of the Hawks' top-four tacklers last season.

Head Coach Mike Turk on the first practice in full pads: "For the first day in full pads, it wasn't bad. This was the first chance we've had to work on tackling, and that is one of those areas you can't work on enough. It's hard to get enough work in that area.

"We're at the point in the preseason, with what we have installed, that you hope the guys are becoming more comfortable with what we're asking them to do. By the fifth day of camp, we're still having to think a little bit instead of just reacting. But our pace of play should begin to speed up soon."


Position Spotlight – Linebackers

Projected Starters:  Mal Caldwell (Jr.), Karl Dorn (So.), Seth Warren (Jr.)

Others to Watch: Jackson Dilworth (So.), Sawyer Kendrick (Sr.), Casey Peppers (Fr.), Drew Schlemmer (Jr.), Triston Schmidthorst (Fr.)


A Closer Look: The Hawks have to replace four-year starter Trey Hayes, the program's all-time leading tackler and a second-team All-American last season, but the projected starting unit (sophomore Karl Dorn, junior Mal Caldwell and junior Seth Warren) features three linebackers who have playing experience.

Dorn and Caldwell were two of the top-four tacklers for Huntingdon last season and Warren saw playing time in 2017 before missing last season. Dorn finished with 40 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss last season as a freshman and Caldwell had 39 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Behind the starting unit, several Hawks are establishing themselves and pushing for playing time. Senior Sawyer Kendrick, junior Drew Schlemmer, sophomore Jackson Dilworth and freshmen Casey Peppers and Triston Schmidthorst have impressed the coaches during the preseason.


Turk on the starting unit: "Dorn, Caldwell and Warren have separated themselves as the starting group. All three of them have played for us. Dorn was a starter last year, Warren played in 2017 before missing last season and Caldwell played last season.

"Dorn is an experienced guy and a savvy player and he is a year older and a year stronger, so that is encouraging. Even though Warren didn't play last year, he has been around here and he knows the defense and he knows what his responsibilities are. He's getting better every day in the preseason. Caldwell has established himself in the preseason and is another one who is improving with every opportunity."

Turk on the mixture of experience and inexperience with the unit: "We have several guys who have been around the program and have played a little, but there is some inexperience and every rep we get in practice is beneficial for that group.

"We're seeing good things out of a lot of guys. Kendrick has made the move from H-Back to linebacker and is really getting his first reps, but he is a tough kid and a good athlete. Schlemmer is a guy who is learning and progressing and seems to be making the plays he should and the younger guys like Dilworth, Schmidthorst and Peppers are doing some good  things to catch our eye. We need all of these guys to keep coming on and developing."

Turk on building depth: "We had guys having to play almost every snap last year. You don't want a defensive guy to have to play 80 snaps a game, especially early in the year when it's so hot. It doesn't matter who you are, there is no way to do that and still be at your peak. That's why it's important that we have some of these young guys continue to step up so we can develop depth."


Next Practice: The Hawks return to the field at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Practices are open to the public.


2019 NCAA Playoff Information
November 24, 2019 2019 NCAA Playoff Information