Josh Tremblay is on a mission to return Watervliet to its winning ways.

Tremblay was promoted to head coach following an eight-year stint as the program’s junior varsity coach. Tremblay’s JV teams went 50-20 in that stretch, including four consecutive 9-0 seasons.

The Panthers varsity he takes over was 2-7 last season, ending a nine-year run of winning records.

“Last year was disappointing for a lot of people,” Tremblay said. “The injury bug hit us hard. We’ll lean on the big guys up front. We’ll focus on defense this year and look to become a defensive-minded football team. We are fairly young and only are rostering 20 guys.

“Our goal is to improve each week and to compete in every game. We’ll see where that puts us when all is said and done.”

Senior Jimmy Collis (6-2, 240) and juniors Dylan Lawson (6-5, 230) and Isaiah Yazel (5-8, 170) were two-way starters last season on both lines.

First-team all-conference junior Don Smith (6-1, 205) returns to the running back spot after moving to quarterback last season due to injuries at the position. Joining Smith in the backfield are sophomore Austin Wilmoth (5-7, 150), junior Jerry Unger (5-11, 170), and senior Isaac Wilmoth (5-7, 150).

“We have some big boys up front on both lines,” Tremblay said. “They have worked hard this offseason to increase their strength and speed.  Our running backs are tough kids and hard runners and we have a little speed on the edge with a few guys in our wide receiver group. We are looking to solidify our defense this year and to take advantage of some of our size up front.”

Seniors Cole Pline (6-4, 190), Logan Geisler (6-0, 160) and Collen Doneruse (5-10, 150) will see action on both sides of the ball this season. Key newcomers from the junior varsity squad include quarterback Evan Hutchins (5-9, 160), wide receivers Jordon Abney (5-6, 140) and Logan Duscha (5-10, 140) as well as sophomore Conner Underwood (5-11, 205) and freshman Royce Daugherty (6-1, 260) down in the trenches.

Contact: mharden@thehp.com, 932-0371, @HPMaxwellHarden