Seton-La Salle defense in early spotlight

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Seton-La Salle, well known for its offensive prowess, has nine returning starters on its defensive unit in 2013.

Veteran head coach Greg Perry couldn't be more excited.

“We have a nice group on defense coming back this year. We have some experience and some speed back there,” Perry said. “Our defense is much more ahead of our offense. We're kind of excited with what we have coming back.”

The Rebels' defensive line is anchored by senior tackles Trey Imler and Jake Parks, plus ends Jacob Blahut, a junior, and Mike Kalnas, a senior.

The starting linebacking corps consists of juniors Rick Mellick, Dequay Broadwater and Adam Ottaviano, and senior Brandon Aiello, who will be flanked by seniors Tom Rizza, Dom DelGreco and James Ross in the secondary.

“James Ross is probably one of our best athletes,” Perry said.

The cupboard isn't exactly empty on offense.

Perry and his staff welcomed back the likes of Rizza, Broadwater and Mellick at running back, DelGreco at wide receiver, as well as Blahut, Kalnas and Parks on the line.

Ross and junior Matt Reinmund have joined DelGreco in the receiving department, while Aiello and senior Gino Diperna are fullbacks.

The tight end position will be filled by seniors Malik White, a newcomer to the team, and Markus Nones.

“Offensively, we're looking for some playmakers. We have some work to do to catch up on that side,” Perry said. “We have some athleticism and speed, but we are raw there. We have to put the pieces together.”

Rizza, a starter at running back/cornerback, is a key link to success for the Rebels.

“We are looking for big things from Tom Rizza,” Perry said. “He will be counted on for a leadership role.”

Rizza rushed for a team-leading 550 yards and scored six times in 2012.

“We have a lot of skill on offense. We're really balanced,” he said. “We just have to do what we have to do; we have to execute and play hard.”

Seton-La Salle has long been known for its Air Rebel attack, due to an emphasis on its aerial game and having a slew of outstanding quarterbacks over the years.

Junior Tyler Perone has inherited the quarterbacking job from the graduated Luke Brumbaugh, who threw for 3,451 yards and 36 touchdowns in a stellar varsity career.

“I think Tyler is coming along back there. He's a big kid. He just hasn't had a start under the lights on Friday night,” Perry said. “He will be a good quarterback. He has some experience around him. He just has to take his time. We're hoping he does what he has been doing for us in the spring and summer (workouts).”

Seton-La Salle ended up with a 9-2 overall record last year, finishing second behind rival South Fayette in the Class AA Century Conference.

“We like to win championships and we didn't get one (in 2012),” Perry said, “We have to get back to work and try to get things going toward our goal — which is at least a conference championship.”

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