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Harrisburg Football Preview: Angelly, Dogs hit the ground running

  • The 2017 Harrisburg High School Varsity Football Team

    The 2017 Harrisburg High School Varsity Football Team

By Michael Dann
updated: 8/21/2017 10:59 AM

Gabe Angelly's feet hit the floor running on June 28. They haven't stopped since.

Angelly was hired On June 28 to replace Al Way as Harrisburg High School football coach. Angelly, in the process, became the 30th head football coach in school history and knows he follows in a line of footsteps that are among some of the Harrisburg greats.

"It's such a honor for my name to be associated with coaching greats like Al Way, Chuck Hunsinger and Laurence Calufetti. Those names are staples in our community and it's an honor and privilege to have this position."

Angelly was an assistant under Way, when Way returned to the Bulldog sidelines in 2015. Before that, Angelly was a sophomore coach under then head coach Jason Roper until 2010 when Angelly stepped away to focus on his duties at the Harrisburg Middle School where he is currently assistant principal.

Angelly says blending the offensive styles of both Way and Roper is what he will try to accomplish in the early going as the Bulldogs prep for the season opener on August 25 at Mt. Carmel.

"The good thing for me is I've worked with coach Way and coach Roper for so long that I'm very, very comfortable in the offense that we have been running for a long time. I know coach Way's style of running the football and when coach Roper came in as a head coach 10 years ago, he brought some spread stuff that we have never done here, some shot gun things and some different looks at an offense.

"We have tried to incorporate the old run game that Harrisburg has always known, along with these spread passing concepts.There are a lot of different opportunities we could have with the combination of our run and spread stuff. That's kind of been my offensive philosophy since Roper took over was this gelling of old power football and this new spread concept. We're not an option-type spread here like other teams in southern Illinois are. We incorporate our power run into the spread and utilize our athletes on the outside when we can. I've really liked trying to gel both of those together."

Angelly left no doubt that Way has been a big influence on him as now a head coach and how he goes about looking at things on offense and preparing.

On offense, the Bulldogs will return four starters in fullback Jordan Bartok, running back Hunter Smith, tight end Cole Vaughn and tackle Rajah Peacock.

In Bartok, Smith and Peacock, Angelly knows that he has what he considers to be the backbone of his football team.

"I think it's safe to say that Bartok, Smith and Peacock are the backbone of this team," Angelly said. They are seniors, leaders and good players."

Not only do the three give Angelly another set of eyes on the field, they also act as coaches because of their experience.

"All three of them were very productive last year and you have to think they can just as productive, if not more, this year. Caleb, for instance, was a two-way starter his sophomore year. This will be his third year as a two-way starter."

Bartok (linebacker) will help anchor a defense that returns Smith (defensive back) and Peacock (lineman), as well as, Presley Gauch (linebacker) Cade Joiner (linebacker) and Noah Smith (defensive back).

Josh Allen will take over the Harrisburg defense this year. Allen also served as an assistant under Way a year ago. Greg Langley, who was Harrisburg's defensive coordinator a year ago, stepped down and is serving as an assistant coach with Way on the Harrisburg freshmen football team.

First year signal caller Isaac Crabb will be Harrisburg's quarterback, the sophomore was an All-Conference player this past spring in baseball and that kind of accolade is something that Angelly knows he will use to his advantage.

"Being a sophomore and being thrown in to a position like that is always a tough situation, but he's the right one for the job. He understands the concept at having to play at a high level and he knows those expectations. That's not new to him and he's not afraid to play a high level."

Michael Dann covers prep and college sports for the Harrisburg Register, Eldorado Journal & The Gallatin County Democrat. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.