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Improvement won't come easy for Canon-McMillan in challenging conference

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 8:26 p.m.
Canon-McMillian's Alex Campbell during pass catching drills on Monday August 13, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Canon-McMillian's Alex Paulina works on footwork and blocking on Monday, Aug. 13, 2012.

It's been a tough couple of years for Canon-McMillan coach Tim Sohyda and the Big Macs.

Coming off an 0-10 season preceded by a 1-8 campaign, Sohyda is determined to get the ship steered in the right direction.

“I grew up in this town, and the people and this place are special to me,” Sohyda said. “I want to make sure I do right by these kids.”

A quick turnaround won't be easy. Canon-McMillan starts the season playing three of the WPIAL's most successful programs in Penn Hills, Upper St. Clair and Central Catholic.

“These things you can't control; it doesn't bother me,” Sohyda said of the early schedule. “I preach to the kids that these aren't last year's teams. You have to be ready to play and challenge these people.”

Despite the position in the standings, major college coaches are finding their way to Canonsburg.

One reason is promising sophomore two-way lineman Alex Paulina. Guard Torre Carr, though just 5-foot-11, is also grabbing the attention of Division I colleges.

Tight end Alex Campbell is being scouted by Massachusetts, a new entry in the Mid-American Conference. Campbell placed fifth at last year's PIAA wrestling tournament at 215 pounds.

Juniors Colin Chupinka (DB), Jules Gdovic (DB) and Alec Rideout (DE) also are expected to contribute.

Among the top defenders will be senior Angelo Broglia (DE) and sophomore Justin Mattola (DE).

Sohyda prefers a four-man defensive front, but will employ seven or eight players.

There are 46 players on the team, so many will have to play both ways.

“It's a great challenge, I tell the players you have to do the little things right,” Sohyda said. “The question is when they start to drag and feel sorry for themselves. You've got to play the whole time.”

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