Derry's young roster sparking a revival
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A majority of Derry's marquee players are gone, yet the Trojans' spirits are high heading into the 2013 season.
Not a bad attitude for a program that has had just one non-losing record (.500 in 2008-09) in a decade.
“The kids that are here now understand that there's an opportunity,” Derry third-year coach Al Gaiardo said.
As usual, there's work to be done. Derry's 44-man roster has just nine seniors.
For the current group, it is yet another chance to turn around a program that has seen its share of losing. Derry has won just eight games since a 5-5 mark in 2008 and is coming off a 1-8 campaign in 2012, including 0-8 in the WPIAL Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference.
“We're going to get it turned around here, but we knew it wasn't going to happen overnight,” Gaiardo said.
Excuses aside, injuries have plagued the Trojans in Gaiardo's first two years. Departed quarterback Rob Hebenthal and leading rusher and receiver Josh Wannamaker missed much of the past two years with major ailments.
The biggest challenge Gaiardo faces is convincing the team to establish an identity now that Hebenthal and Wannamaker have graduated.
A lot of competition at every position is expected.
“That's one of the things I like about this team,” Gaiardo said. “They're very unselfish. These guys will move to other positions to help the team.”
Senior tight end Clint Beeman and junior running back Josh Flack are among players Gaiardo was expecting to step into leadership roles. Senior Kyle Holmes, who replaced the injured Hebenthal last season at quarterback, is likely to return to that role.
Seniors Sal DeCario and Lloyd Zulisky and junior T.J. Balega are two-way performers who also have impressed Gaiardo.
Former Derry great Kyle Schmitt, who played at the University of Maryland and currently is a high school coach at Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.), has made occasional appearances in the Derry locker room through the years, and it has served as an inspiration to the Trojans.
“The guys are moved by that,” Gaiardo said. “We talk about the great players who've come through Derry in the past, and I believe that it can show this group about the value of working yourself into a position to succeed. It gives these guys a reason to believe they can do that type of thing, make a name for yourself and put Derry back on the map.”
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.
- Pine-Richland knocks off No. 1 Central Catholic, takes conference title
- Jeannette RB Hall looks to older brothers for inspiration
- Previewing some of Western Pa.’s top matchups for Week 8
- High school football roundup: Fulmore hits career milestone for CWNC
- Hectic week ahead for WPIAL student-athletes
- Statewide HSFB notebook: After blackout, McDevitt downs Cedar Cliff in two-day game
- Clairton gets its revenge against Monessen
- South Park uses 90-second, 28-point surge to get past Steel Valley
- Penn-Trafford holds off Plum, earns share of conference title
- South Fayette offense rolls past Seton-La Salle
- No. 5 McKeesport pulls away from Norwin