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Pecora finds new home at East Allegheny

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Daily News
East Allegheny coach Dominic Pecora works Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at training camp.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Daily News
East Allegheny junior running back Octavian Owens works Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at training camp.

For years Dominic Pecora drove through the intersection of routes 30 and 48, gazed south and caught a glimpse of East Allegheny High School.

As he did, an idea came into the mind of the former Southmoreland football coach.

“I guess when you get into this, you kind of dream about where you're going to end up, and East Allegheny was always somewhere that I wanted to be for a long, long time,” Pecora said. “I lived in North Versailles, and I own a business in Trafford, and logistically it made sense. I was born and grew up in this area, and East Allegheny was always somewhere I could see myself spending 10 or 15 years.”

He'll finally have that chance after he left the Scotties to take over the East Allegheny program in February after the abrupt departure of Jason Ruscitto after only one season. And the geography of the situation had as much to do with his acceptance of the position as anything.

“We border McKeesport, Gateway and Woodland Hills, and they have great programs, and I thought that East Allegheny could as well,” Pecora said. “It's a great challenge, and we have a long way to go. But most importantly, you know that this district produces talent. … I think there's talent here in the backyard, so why not take a shot at it.”

Considering Pecora is the third coach at East Allegheny in as many years, continuity could be a problem as he prepares the team for its Allegheny Conference opener against Summit Academy.

“I don't want to do anything different, but we're going to eat, sleep and breathe football,” Pecora said. “I think we have a good scheme on offense, a good scheme on defense and we've gotten a really good commitment from the players, and I think I bring a good commitment for me, personally.”

One of the first things Pecora did was overhaul the offense. Instead of being a pro-set offense, the team will exhibit more of a spread-option attack that will showcase the versatility of veteran starting quarterback Kyle Whipple. In his previous two years as the team's starter, Whipple has been more of a dropback passer with several weapons at his disposal, but this will be the first time he will be utilized extensively as a runner.

“It's probably the only position that was pretty much ironed out for us (going into camp), and Kyle's been 100 percent healthy and worked his butt off in the weight room,” Pecora said. “He's really set the tone for us because we always knew that he was going to be there for us and would be working hard.”

Junior running back Octavian Owens could help in the backfield.

Pecora also opened up every position on defense before camp.

“I told these kids that I don't care, size-wise, where you fit in, I'm putting the 11 fastest, most physical players on defense,” Pecora said. “If it's 11 corners, we'll play 11 corners. Speed and being physical is what I stress on defense, and we'll find out how that works in this conference.”

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