KENWOOD — Lucas Kowalski is not Danny Ferens. He is not expected to be.
But Kowalski knows he happens to be filling the position of the player most responsible for the unprecedented success at Penns Manor the last four years, and that’s an odd situation for a kid to be thrown into.
“Every now and then, I do think about it,” Kowalski, the new Penns Manor quarterback, said, “but I have a good line coming back in front of me, and everyone will play around me to their fullest potential.
“It’s big shoes to fill. You’ve got a lot of people looking up at you, hoping you can get the job done, and I believe I can get the job done. I just want to win some ballgames.”
A four-year starter who earned a scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania, Ferens became the first area player to surpass 2,000 rushing yards in a season, and he finished his career with area records of 5,563 rushing yards and 7,813 total yards. Penns Manor went 41-7 during his career.
Kowalski has played some receiver and running back the past few years. This year, No. 21, Kowalski, will be running the same offense that No. 12, Ferens, ran.
“Basically, the difference is going to be the running of Ferens,” coach Bill Packer said. “He got to run the ball a lot. We’re going to continue to run the ball with the quarterback a little bit. Lucas is a good athlete. He played some tailback for us last year, so we’re going to use him running the ball.
“We’re basically going to stay with the Wing-T. We’ve got a nice fullback again (Ethan Marshall). We’re just going to be more balanced this year, and it’s not going to be all the quarterback running so much. He’s going to get his opportunities, but everybody will.”
There isn’t much a player can learn from Ferens’ highlight reel. They can’t watch a player evade four tacklers, stay in bounds and race downfield for a touchdown, and just go out and replicate that. But, for Kowalski and his teammates, there were plenty of benefits to being around Ferens over the years — seeing the work he put in, picking up his smarts for the game.
“He’s had great leadership, something that he passed on to us,” Kowalski said. “He just had the will to win. When you were out there with him, you had the will to win. That’s something that he showed all of us, something that we can learn from him.”
Ferens will, of course, be missed on defense, too. Kowalski and Louie Tate will man the cornerback positions — one of which Ferens had locked down while assisting all over the field.
“We showed them a lot of film on Ferens, how he could come up and make tackles,” Packer said. “We wanted them to see all the things that he did, because we’re not doing that right now.
“The things they don’t learn: He just had that natural ability, that athletic ability that not too many kids have. Those are just some things they’re not going to be able to match. … Just watching him read people and read the blocking from the wingbacks, how he could get up quickly, help out, support and make tackles (is something they can learn), and his leadership that he has shown with these guys. They know what it takes, how to have a good work ethic and how to prepare, and hopefully these kids are doing that.”