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Burrell set to showcase speed on offense this season

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:56 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Burrell's Cody Wolfe looks for an opening during a scrimmage against Apollo-Ridge at Apollo-Ridge High School on Wednesday, July 24, 2013.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Burrell's Ryan Sowol runs during a scrimmage against Apollo-Ridge at Apollo-Ridge High School on Wednesday, July 24, 2013.

To get Burrell senior Cody Wolfe to smile wide these days, ask him about the new offense the Bucs will unveil this fall.

“It's a little San Francisco 49er action,” he said. “It's going to be fun.”

Third-year coach Kevin Horwatt said Burrell's schemes will be reliant on speed and surprises. Gone is the pound-the-ground offense that helped bruiser Cole Bush gain almost 1,800 yards and allowed the Bucs to go 8-2 and share the Allegheny Conference title.

“With the guys we have now, it's a little different,” Horwatt said. “We're not focusing on one key individual. We're going to be pulling it together.”

Bush, an all-conference running back and linebacker, and 10 other players, including quarterback James Liput, graduated. Seven starters are back on each side of the ball.

“Burrell is known for the power stuff,” said Wolfe, who will start at quarterback. “But we have some athletes, and we're going to use them. Instead of just toughness, it'll be speed and toughness.”

Wolfe started one game at quarterback last season while Liput recovered from concussion symptoms. He led the Bucs to a 17-10 win over Ford City.

“For a quarterback, this (offense) is great,” said Horwatt, a former Bucs signal caller. “You make all the decisions. It's based off what you do.

“These kids are very mature. They're willing to take that pressure on their shoulders.”

Many players will handle the ball, but junior Ryan Sowol and senior Mitch Pollino will see the most carries at running back. Pollino rushed 37 times for 284 yards and three touchdowns last season, and Sowol gained 186 yards on 26 carries.

Senior receiver Nick Pattock returns after leading the team with 24 catches and 387 yards.

The revamped offense forced Burrell's offensive linemen to learn new blocking techniques. Seniors Chad Tonks and Tyler Horwatt, the team's returning starters, must make sure their less experienced cohorts stay up to speed.

“We're still going to battle,” Tonks said. “It's going to be a physical game every week.”

Burrell averaged 34.5 points per game last season. Only four Class AA teams had higher averages.

“There's a lot more key pieces to this puzzle now,” Horwatt said. “They need to be on the same page, and they really need to buy into this.

“I think it's going to be exciting to watch. You're going to see a variety of names in the paper.”

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