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Frazier seniors determined to win conference title

| Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Frazier's Joe Hela works during training camp.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Frazier's Joe Hela works during training camp.
Frazier quarterback Charles Manack for TAB
Frazier quarterback Charles Manack for TAB

Reaching the WPIAL playoffs is always a goal, but Frazier has loftier expectations this season.

“We definitely want to build on what we did last year,” coach Mike Steeber said. “We finished tied for second (in the Tri-County South) again. It was a narrow miss from competing for the conference title. Our seniors have been through this before. Our seniors want to go out and prove something. This is their last chance. They've made the playoffs. Now they would like to try to put themselves in position to do better than that.”

Frazier brings back several starters offensively, led by senior quarterback Charles Manack.

After making the move from tight end, Manack threw for 1,794 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. As a sophomore, he was an all-conference pick and the team's third-leading receiver.

“He's athletic enough to play multiple positions,” Steeber said. “And he's a big quarterback. He's not a small kid. His arm strength's improved also. He's a smart kid in the classroom and on the field, and he makes good decisions with the football.”

Senior running backs Zach Mastowski and Chaise Bertocci, offensive linemen Joe Hela and Daniel Leonard, wide receiver Michael Luce and tight end Nate Zurich all saw significant playing time in 2012.

Frazier has thrown the ball a lot in recent seasons, and Steeber doesn't expect much to change. Luce caught 32 passes for 423 yards last season, but he will have to step up his game to offset the loss of graduated Jaime Fell, who led the team in receiving yards.

“We'll have to see where we're strong at,” Steeber said. “Kids step up and do things differently every year. If we can run the football and gain 4 yards every play, we probably will run the ball more. I'm just trying to keep an open mind.”

As it always seems to be, the offensive line is a question mark. Senior guards Hela and Leonard will anchor the line, while Jacob Girvin has experience at center.

“You can see kids run around at the skill positions during camp and you can see what you have,” Steeber said. “But you can't tell who's going to move people up front, and that's what the game's all about.”

Steeber said he expects Dakota Hixson to see playing time opposite Luce at wideout, while Zurich will line up at tight end. Another player who could wind up on the receiving end of Manack's passes is sophomore Hunter Patterson.

Mastowski and Bertocci, two experienced inside linebackers, will anchor the defense. Hela and Leonard will play up front, while Ethan Weiser is expected to lead the secondary.

Frazier again will compete in the nine-team Tri-County South.

“I expect Carmichaels to be improved from last year, and they were a good team,” Steeber said.

“Beth-Center is always a good team, and it's hard to tell with (Jefferson-Morgan), but they always put together a solid team. Avella might not have a ton of numbers, but they have a lot of skill players back. Mapletown was very young last year, but they will be improved. A lot can change in a year.”

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