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Coaches, players getting to know each other on Plum football team

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Gary Bills | For The Plum Advance Leader
Plum rising junior wide receiver Phillip Mahr hauls in a pass during a 7-on-7 game at Valley High School. The new Mustangs football coaching staff and the new and veteran players are getting to know each other more as the 2013 preseason camp is a little more than two months away.
Top high school sports
Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The first season under new Plum varsity football head coach Matt Morgan begins in a little more than two months, and the players and coaches still are working to get to know each other while forming a team identity.

Morgan was hired in March to replace Frank Sacco, who was not rehired by the Plum School Board after four years at the helm of the Mustangs.

“Everything has really been positive,” Morgan said.

Things really got rolling last month during a two-week spring camp — in helmets — right before finals.

“It was a good way for the coaches and players to get accustomed to each other.

Optional workouts continued last week during finals, and, Morgan said, the turnouts each day still numbered close to two dozen.

“If they want to win, everyone has to make a change,” he said. “We all need to be on the same page. We're all moving in the right direction.”

Plum made the WPIAL playoffs in 2009 and 2010, but the Mustangs won only one time in two seasons between 2011 and 2012.

Morgan said there is a clean slate.

“(The coaches) don't know (the players) from previous seasons, and they don't know who we are,” Morgan said.

“Just because someone didn't play last year doesn't mean they won't play this year. It's about stepping up and proving themselves. It's a fresh look at everything. It's a fresh start for every player. I want to put the best 11 on the field, whether they are freshmen or seniors.”

Morgan said he is looking forward to finding out the leaders of the team heading into the 2013 season.

“That is something that will play out over time,” he said.

“But everyone has been accountable to each other. Everyone is looking forward.”

Summer workouts — everything in the morning — will be very important, Morgan said, as will tournament action through several 7-on-7 games and tournaments.

Plum has faced Shaler in 7-on-7 action, and the Mustangs played at Valley on Friday.

“(Rising senior quarterback) Will Fuhrer wasn't there, so we were able to see a couple of other quarterbacks,” Morgan said.

“We were able to move the ball pretty well. Valley got a little physical with us, so we stepped that up, too. It was nice to see them compete.”

Plum will play at Penn-Trafford on Saturday morning in a 7-on-7 event that also will include Trinity and East Allegheny.

“It creates an internal competition because we can only take 20 players to Penn-Trafford and other (7-on-7) places like Pitt,” Morgan said.

The Mustangs linemen will attend the prestigious Joe Moore offensive line camp Saturday and Sunday at West Allegheny High School.

“There will be a lot of good coaches there,” Morgan said.

Plum players also will take part in 7-on-7 competitions at Washington & Jefferson University and Riverview High School.

“It will be good for the kids to go out there and get some good competition,” Morgan said.

Morgan said the coaching staff, including four coaches who came with him from Gateway, still is evolving.

Former Gators, Woodland Hills and Franklin Regional assistant coach Cliff Thompson will serve as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.

“It's all about getting to know each other and getting to know the kids,” Morgan said.

Plum opens its season with a Quad Central conference game at Bethel Park on Aug. 30.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412- 388-5825 or at

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