Finally healthy, South Allegheny ready to compete
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Making the playoffs at South Allegheny was never going to be an easy proposition for coach Pat Monroe, but losing five players to season-ending injuries in 2011 made attaining success impossible.
All of those injured players have returned for the Gladiators this season, giving Monroe and his staff a legitimate chance at a competitive season.
“You don't ever want the kids making any excuses,” said Monroe, the former Duquesne coach. “But the fact of the matter is, we endured an awful lot of bad luck last season. Hopefully, we can keep these guys healthy this season.”
The players returning from the injuries could give SA a huge boost. They include starting middle linebacker Justin Yarborough (torn ACL), starting tailback Brandon Murn (broken ankle), starting running back Keaton McClelland (shoulder injury), starting wideout Josh Roundtree (torn labrum) and starting tight end Tim Burkholder (shoulder injury).
That core of players give Monroe the kind of experienced seniors that he's never enjoyed at SA.
“That's the thing that's unique about the team I have this year,” he said. “Not only are these guys finally healthy, but they're really smart. All of them. This is a very mature, intelligent football team.”
Having such a veteran squad has enabled Monroe to add numerous variations to his offense. Multiple formations have been simpler to install because Monroe is dealing with experienced players.
Of course, rocket science won't be required when Monroe calls his most frequent play this season.
Murn figures to receive a load of carries behind guard Ryan Bednar.
Rarely has Monroe enjoyed a more powerful offensive lineman than Bednar, a 6-foot-2, 283-pound senior guard.
“What a player,” Monroe said. “He can do everything on the football field. He's a beast of a football player.”
Bednar, in fact, figures to be a force on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, Monroe figures to use him at numerous positions around the line of scrimmage. Bednar is capable of dominating at nose tackle or defensive end.
Offensively, Bednar's usage will be simple. The Gladiators will run behind the guard time and time again.
“Yes,” Monroe said with a chuckle. “That sounds like a pretty good idea.”
Monroe believes his offense could be very good, even though star tight end Jesse James was lost to graduation in June.
Murn is a powerful runner and should see the bulk of SA's carries this season.
“Like him a lot,” Monroe said. “He's going to be a big part of our football team.”
Quarterback Dustin Anderson could be poised for a big season.
A physically imposing player at 6-3, 230 pounds, Anderson is one of the WPIAL's largest quarterbacks.
“I can't imagine there's another quarterback out there whose arm is as strong as his,” Monroe said. “And he's just so big and strong. He's tough to bring down. Plus, you can now see him starting to get comfortable running the offense. I have very high hopes for him.”
The Gladiators haven't made the playoffs since 1986, and Monroe realizes it would be foolish to raise expectations too high before his fifth season as coach.
But he likes this team.
“When you go 1-9 the season before you have to be quiet and that's what we'll be,” Monroe said. “We've got nothing to brag about. But I know that we have a lot of good football players back. Hopefully we can keep some of these kids healthy, because we feel like we can be a pretty good football team.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
- Woman shot at Kennywood Park in ‘freak accident’
- Film shares tale of Pittsburgh man who turned disability into career
- Westmoreland County on pace to surpass record for drug-related fatalities
- Man charged with passing counterfeit bills at Rivers Casino
- Apple Hill Playhouse takes on an updated ‘Snow White’
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Bookings for August Wilson Center climb, but permanent board yet to be set