Healthy Hempfield hopes to capitalize with talented group
By Dave Mackall
Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Victories against McKeesport and Latrobe to open the 2012 season, a close loss at Connellsville and another victory against Kiski Area.
Suddenly, Hempfield was sporting a 3-1 record and appeared to be rolling toward its best season in years.
Then the injury bug bit the Spartans, who then lost four of their final five regular-season games before dropping a 30-point decision to Seneca Valley just days after squeaking into the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.
“After the Kiski game, we were 3-1 and ranked, but then we lost our two starting running backs for the season,” coach Rich Bowen said. “Some support guys also got hurt. ... It was one of those years where the excitement was back. The kids were excited and started to believe in themselves.”
Even with the slew of injuries that struck Hempfield in Bowen's first season as coach — backfield mates Joey DeFloria (shoulder) and Skyler Carkuff (knee) were among the casualties — he was quick to acknowledge his players' resilience.
“We still played some pretty decent football,” Bowen said. “We lost some of our playmakers, but it gave a chance for some other guys to step up and take advantage of an opportunity.”
With DeFloria and Carkuff out, DeLorian Day emerged as the Spartans' leading rusher. All three return for their senior year and will be joined by quarterback Ty George, who passed for just more than 1,000 yards last season.
But he'll be without graduated receivers Tyler Handlan, Cameron Updyke and Lucas Sphon, who combined for 68 receptions.
Before DeFloria was hurt in the fourth game of the season, he caught 12 passes, including one for a touchdown. He again figures to be a prime target.
“We've talked a lot about living by a motto: ‘It's the next guy up,' ” Bowen said. “If you're a backup, you're expected to perform if your number's called. I was proud that we did the best we could last year and made the playoffs.”
Along the line, Bowen said 6-foot-7, 315-pound two-way tackle Tony Pilato was expected to lead the way along with defensive ends Max Adams (6-2, 250) and Ian Lewandowski (6-2, 215). Linebacker Josh Kempka (6-1, 220) also should help bolster the Spartans' defense.
“We're excited about this year, and we hope to have some success and carry it through for next year,” Bowen said. “What we're looking for is continued improvement. We made some progress last year in running a good football program.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.