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Coughlin ready to take reigns for Upper St. Clair again

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 8:30 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Upper St. Clair center Austin Park. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Upper St. Clair quarterback Pete Coughlin. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Upper St. Clair quarterback Pete Coughlin. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Upper St. Clair is confident it can replace Dakota Conwell at quarterback, thanks to Pete Coughlin's smashing starting debut.

The Panthers turned to Coughlin after losing Conwell, an Arizona recruit who accounted for 2,000 yards total offense, to a high ankle sprain last postseason.

Coughlin responded by rushing for 209 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown, and throwing for 61 yards and another score in a stunning WPIAL semifinal victory over nationally ranked Central Catholic last fall.

“We knew what we had,” USC coach Jim Render said. “I'm not saying I knew he was going to gain 200-some yards against Central Catholic, the 10th-ranked team in the country. I couldn't say I knew that, but we weren't totally surprised out of our minds that he did that.”

Coughlin also relieved Conwell against North Allegheny in the WPIAL championship loss, completing 7 of 12 passes for 146 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown, and rushing for 63 yards on 23 carries.

“I thought I could do well, but that (Central) performance wasn't something I expected,” he said. “It's nice to get that recognition, but I still have to prove I can keep it up the whole season, not just one or two games.”

Upper St. Clair is counting on the 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior to be its offensive catalyst this season.

“It's a little different, but I think I can show I can do it,” Coughlin said. “I'm not too worried about failing because they have so much confidence in me.”

Render said the Panthers were in the process of implementing a package of plays with Conwell and Coughlin in the same backfield to take advantage of Coughlin's quickness and elusiveness.

“That's what makes him dangerous,” Render said.

“He is just so quick, and he can break the other guy's ankles. We need to run our base stuff and be creative with what we do with him.”

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