New KO football coach has plenty of talent
October 26 will be an interesting date for Keystone Oaks football coach Matt Taylor.
Not only will it be the final game of his first regular season with the Golden Eagles, but he will lead Keystone Oaks in a road battle against Burgettstown, the team he coached for the previous eight seasons and the school where he still teaches.
"Interesting is one way to put it," Taylor said. "It will be their senior night. I have a lot of love and respect being with those seniors the previous three years. It won't be the easiest week going into the game."
While it will lead to an awkward week at work, the time Taylor spent coaching the Blue Devils should help on Friday nights this fall. Burgettstown - like Keystone Oaks - competes in the Century Conference in Class AA, and Taylor has a strong knowledge of the competition his squad will face every Friday night.
Taylor said on the offensive side of the ball, the team will have multiple looks. With talented athletes across the field, the first-year coach said he wants the team to use what the defense gives it, whether it is through the air or on the ground.
Maybe the biggest offensive weapon Taylor has in 2012 is senior running back Dale Klobuchir. The talented back ran for 1,120 yards last season and 10 touchdowns.
"When we played against Dale last year it wasn't fun," Taylor said. "He ran for about 170 yards on us. It will be really fun to have him to coach this season. We want to get the ball in his hands because he is so talented.
"We want him in the position to make plays."
Klobuchir has been consistent for Keystone Oaks since midway through the 2010 season, when he saw his time on the field go up as he filled in for an injured teammate.
His big 2011 season might have teams paying more attention to him this year, but Klobuchir said he is ready for the challenge.
"It felt great getting as many yards as I did last season and I want to do it again," Klobuchir said. "But if teams start concentrating on me, it will allow other guys on the team to get open."
Taylor said when Klobuchir needs a break in the action, sophomore Jimmy Canello will be able to step onto the field. Also, Jake Walker is expected to receive carries in 2012.
A fluent ground game will help the Golden Eagles' new quarterback, sophomore Kobe Phillippi. Taylor said the youngster has impressed over the summer with an accurate arm and a desire to grow as a player.
"The best thing he does is (he) studies," Taylor said. "He asks good questions. We give him a little more to chew on each day and he just absorbs it all.
"The other guys on the team have confidence on him. The seniors and juniors have no problem with him being a sophomore."
Phillippi said while it is a bit nerve-wracking stepping into the gunslinger role, he is looking forward to leading the offense to a big season.
"I have big shoes to fill after the numbers (Matt Buckley) put up last season," Phillippi said. "I have been understanding the playbook more with each practice."
Helping Phillippi in his first year will be two athletic receivers in senior Cory Sevacko and junior Braydon Griffiths.
Griffiths stands 6-foot-2, and Sevacko measures in at 6-3. Both have huge wing spans to make grabs.
"Kobe is my man," Sevacko said. "I want to do whatever I can to help him out."
Also helping the new quarterback will be an experienced offensive line. The line is led by 280-pound senior Ryan Carroll and includes seniors Brett Templeton and Mitch Cholewinski and juniors Declan Hartnett and Chris Grecek.
Grecek moved from tight end to offensive tackle, and Taylor described him as big and strong.
"We are going to go as far as our line takes us on both offense and defense," Taylor said.
Keystone Oaks will be a base 4-4 defense featuring four lineman, four linebackers and three defensive backs.
"We have a few home-run-hitters at all three levels," Taylor said.
Klobuchir leads the linebacker corps after recording 26 tackles and recovering two fumbles in 2011. Joining Klobuchir as an inside linebacker will be Walker.
Canello and junior Dominic Shelow will handle the outside linebacker spots.
In the secondary, Sevacko is the lone returning starter. He recorded 41 tackles and two interceptions a year ago.
Griffiths will handle a cornerback spot, and Taylor said the junior has the ability to cover the better receivers in the conference.
Senior Kevin Barrett is expected to see time in the secondary.
"We hope to have a defense that not only keeps the ball in front of us but to be exciting as well," Taylor said.
"We want turnovers. We want to knock the ball out of wide receivers' and running backs' hands. We want to make sure we put pressure on opposing teams' offenses."
That defensive pressure will be needed in the Century Conference.
The conference returns several of its top playmakers from a season ago, and the Golden Eagles will need to bring pressure every Friday night.
"South Fayette is one of the best teams in Class AA every year," Taylor said. "Seton-La Salle has a lot coming back. Steel Valley always fields a tough team and Quaker Valley and South Allegheny are both much improved."
"The conference has quality teams from top to bottom."
The players share their coach's opinion of the Century Conference being tough week-in and week-out but said they are ready for the challenge.
The team has several clear-cut goals it hopes to achieve this season and is looking to start small.
"We want a winning record and to reach the playoffs," Klobuchir said. "We want to start with small goals and see where it goes from there."