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Laurel Highlands looking for replacement players after graduation losses

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 6:50 p.m.
Laurel Highlands quarterback Raphael Cannon works out during a passing camp on July 27, 2012 in Mount Pleasant Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Laurel Highlands head football coach Zack Just calls out instructions with quarterback Raphael Cannon during a passing camp on July 27, 2012 in Mount Pleasant Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Laurel Highlands quarterback Raphael Cannon works out during a passing camp on July 27, 2012 in Mount Pleasant Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Laurel Highlands head football coach Zack Just during a passing camp on July 27, 2012 in Mount Pleasant Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Laurel Highlands second-year coach Zack Just is looking for playmakers.

The Mustangs lost a significant portion of their offense after quarterback Jake Riddell and all-everything back Danzel Beasley graduated.

“We knew we could count on those two,” Just said. “That's two big holes to fill.”

Several seniors — left tackle Shane Guthrie, left guard George Teslovich, tight end/wide receiver Keith Liptock and wide receiver and Joe Pegg — are returning starters on offense.

Just has two candidates to replace Riddell — senior Nick Copeland and junior Raphael Cannon.

“Both have done some really good things,” Just said. “Nick is a very smart football player. He understands the game and is an extremely hard worker. His work ethic makes him a natural leader. Raphael is a great athlete, and he brings a different dimension to the position. He can run the option, we can call plays designed specifically for him to run or we can roll him out. Having an athlete like Raphael makes your offense more diversified.”

Beasley was diminutive at 5-foot-7, but he was also a threat to break off a big play every time he touched the ball. His playmaking ability earned him first-team Keystone Conference honors.

For now, it looks as if senior Brandon Williams will get the nod as being the Mustangs' go-to back.

“He hasn't missed one workout, and he's shown flashes of having pretty good ability,” Just said.

Just believes Liptock's and Pegg's experience could pay dividends.

“The fact that these guys know what it's like to play at a high level means they can give the quarterback a little bit of guidance,” Just said. “He can put the ball up, and they will make a bad play turn out good.”

Laurel Highlands also returns four senior starters on defense — defensive end Xavier Daniels, defensive tackle Zach Delpinto, middle linebacker Jake Kearns and cornerback Steve Deli.

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