Offseason losses could play role this season for Sto-Rox
Sto-Rox rolled through most of the 2011 season, shutting out five opponents en route to a 12-0 record and a berth in the WPIAL Class A championship game.
The Vikings fell flat in that game, losing, 42-6, to Clairton — and then they lost even more in the offseason.
Offensive and defensive playmakers Dontez Ford and Deaysean Rippy signed with Football Bowl Subdivision programs in Syracuse and Pitt, respectively. Leading rusher Josh Beverly and top receiver/cornerback Marzett Geter will play together at Slippery Rock. Other key cogs such as Kevin Hooper and Jaquon Parker also departed.
Then, in July, coach Ron Butschle resigned for family reasons. Offensive coordinator Dan Bradley stepped in to replace him and faces the task of leading the Vikings back to Heinz Field.
“It's going to be a new experience for me, being the head coach of a football team,” Bradley said. “But I think it's made a bit easier by being familiar with the kids having been there last year under Ron and being a part of the team and the community in the early 2000s.”
One important piece from last season's team does return in 2012. Quarterback Lenny Williams threw for 2,178 yards and 31 touchdowns a year ago, and Bradley expects big things from the junior this season.
“Lenny's a bright football player,” Bradley said of the junior, who also rushed for 624 yards and 10 touchdowns. “He really took a big step last year. We didn't just throw the ball deep and hope we came down with it. We really worked through progression, and he really started to understand the concepts.
“What we'd like for him to do this year would be able to get to that 3-4 read guy. If we can get him to take that next step and just read a little bit into the next progression, that'd be outstanding.”
Sto-Rox also returns four starting linemen from the WPIAL runner-up team, and Bradley expects junior Brendan Blair, who rushed for 353 yards and three touchdowns, to fill in well for Beverly.