ShareThis Page

Decision to stay in place, Leechburg looks to rebound

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:56 p.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Zane Dudek breaks up a pass during a recent scrimmage against Leechburg at Kittanning High School.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Leechburg head coach Mark George directs Darius Bennis during a recet Scrimage at Kittanning High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Leechburg's Taylor Oberdorf attempts to run by a teammate during afternoon practice on Wednesday, at Veterans Memorial Field in Leechburg, August 14, 2013.

Just when a move to District 6 seemed imminent, Leechburg decided to stay in the WPIAL.

Now the Blue Devils hope to make the most of their change-of-heart decision.

After finishing 1-8 overall and 1-7 in the Class A Eastern Conference, Leechburg will turn to a potentially strong running game to try and turn things around.

Handling the carries in the Wing-T offense will be a group of four seniors, led by Kris Smith, who rushed for a team-high 348 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. Joining him in the backfield will be Alex Kalmar, Taylor Oberdorf and Matt Rzewnicki. Each have done their share in the offseason to get better, third-year coach Mark George said.

“The expectations will be for them to be productive and help the team,” George said. “Since I've been head coach of the varsity team, we've always had to rely on ninth and 10th graders. We will have a senior-led backfield. My expectations are high. I expect them to produce, and I think they expect themselves to produce. I see potential for a couple of different backs to gain a lot of yards this year.”

Despite the graduation of Devin Dunmire and Matt Ward, depth and experience loom on the Blue Devils' offensive line, led by senior guard Brandon Bish, senior tackle Jake Kromka and junior tackle Jordan Cominos. Junior R.J. Rich, a starter at tight end since he was a freshman, also will bring experience to the line.

Leechburg lost its biggest offensive threat in Jacob Iellimo.

“It's tough to replace a kid like Jake,” George said. “He was probably 40 percent of our total offense last year. You don't try to replace him. With the kids we got coming back, we will look for someone to step up and have a few players pick up that production.”

Looking to step in at quarterback is senior Alex Sipolino.

“He worked hard in the offseason,” George said. “He played basketball, and as soon as that was over, he was in the gym at 8 at night throwing and working on his throwing motion. He hasn't played in a game yet, but he has really improved.”

Leechburg will sport a 5-2 defense, occasionally switching to a four-man front.

In past years, Leechburg lacked a large number of juniors and seniors. This year, however, is a different story: there are expected to be more than 20 upperclassmen.

The Blue Devils return eight starters on offense and seven on defense.

“I think the kids are positive,” George said. “They just feel good. They feel comfortable with everything they're doing. Things are coming easier, and they're feeling confident.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.