Knause hopes to build Chartiers Valley into a winner
Dan Knause has been around Chartiers Valley High School only since April, when he took over as the Colts football coach. But he is well aware of what the boys sports programs have accomplished there.
The basketball team is a perennial power. The baseball and soccer teams are recent WPIAL champions. Even the cross country team captured the first section title in program history two seasons ago.
Accolades for the football team have been few and far between in recent years, and Knause aims to change that. The transformation, he said, is going to take place in small increments.
“Our focus is becoming daily competitors, getting better each and every day,” he said. “Just learning to hate to lose. I think belief in one another will be a key factor in our success this season and as a program.”
But despite the tried-and-true one-day-at-a-time approach, Knause isn't writing off the 2017 season as a building project. He said he believes the Colts have enough talent to be a factor in the Allegheny Nine.
They return a number of skill-position players: quarterback Reed Bruggeman, running back Steve Alauzen, receivers Connor Barrett, Anthony Doyle and Dylan Ablak and tight end Bret Hicks. Bruggeman was part of the Colts' WPIAL champion baseball team.
“Reed's going to be crucial,” Knause said. “He has to be a leader for us. I think he's a very competitive person, and he knows what it takes to succeed, and I think he'll demand that from his teammates.”
Barrett, though listed as a receiver, could play all over the field, as Knause and his staff look to do some “creative things” with him.
Logan Scott could emerge as a complement to the offense. Though Scott didn't get a lot of playing time last season, Knause said he likes his athleticism and skill set.
The defense has similar experience at key positions. Hicks and Barrett anchor the linebacking corps, and three of the four starters in the secondary return: Troy Donofrio, Doyle and Ablak.
Knause, formerly the defensive coordinator at Montour and linebackers coach at Carnegie Mellon, has been trying to instill an aggressive mentality in his defense.
“One of the things that we've emphasized is pursuit and passion on defense, flying to the ball,” he said. “We're looking to continue to grow and become a more physical football team. We're not where we want to be yet, but I think we're getting there.”
The chief area of concern for Knause is the offensive and defensive lines, where only one starter returns on each: guard James Lang on offense and tackle Hunter Curran on defense. While Knause said he likes the group of linemen he has, he won't know how good they are until they are tested in game action.
If the lines jell, success could come sooner rather than later for the Colts. Knause is confident the team is moving in the right direction.
“I couldn't be more pleased with how coachable they are,” he said. “They've responded. They've grasped everything. More importantly, they are coming together as a team.”