If healthy, Derry expects to become more consistent
By Dave Mackall
Published: Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 8:00 p.m.
Oh, that injury bug. It certainly bit the Derry football team last year.
Trying to reverse a losing trend, Derry needs some stability in its lineup. Avoiding injuries should help.
“We think we can make some progress, but we've got to stay off the injuries,” Derry coach Al Gaiardo said.
The Trojans' 2011 record was respectable before leading rusher Josh Wannamaker tore his ACL and quarterback Robbie Hebenthal broke his collarbone in a victory over Albert Gallatin that evened their mark at 2-2.
The two were lost for the season and Derry went winless the rest of the way, finishing at 2-7 with a five-game losing streak.
Gaiardo, a former St. Vincent College assistant, is trying to convince his teams that they can win consistently. He uses his experience at upstart St. Vincent as motivation. The NCAA Division III Bearcats revived their football program in 2007 and didn't post a winning record until going 6-5 last season.
“The big hurdle in taking over a program is convincing the kids that they can win,” he said. “You tell the stories, like we barely competed with any team when we first got it going at St. Vincent, but here they were four years later winning.”
It isn't just injuries that compounded matters at Class AAA Derry, which moves to the Greater Allegheny Conference from the Keystone Conference. Depth on the roster also has been an issue.
“Once those two (Wannamaker and Hebenthal) went down, that was a big blow to our team,” Gaiardo said. “The dropoff from first team to second team was pretty noticeable.”
Senior kicker Tyler Matusak, who is attracting interest from Division I FCS schools, such as Bucknell, Lafayette and Villanova, also plays wide receiver and cornerback.
“But where he excels is in field-goal kicking,” Gaiardo said. “Having Tyler on the team is another weapon for us. If the game is close, it's nice to have a guy like him around.”
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.