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South Park to emphasize rushing attack

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
South Park's Mike McLaughlin catches a pass during practice Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in South Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
South Park running back Greg Pantuso carries during practice Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in South Park.

Run the ball, and stop the run.

This concept is old-school football at its best, and it's what South Park will use as the basis for its 2013 season.

“We want to throw the ball some, but we're not really a passing team,” coach Tom Loughran said. “We prefer to run the ball first.”

Keying the Eagles' emphasis on the ground game will be a pair of junior linemen — Ryan Podgorski and Robbie Wolak. The pair will anchor the left side of the offensive line, with Podgorski slated to start at left tackle and Wolak at left guard.

“They will be the backbone of both our offensive and defensive lines,” Loughran said of his two returning starters.

With the departure of last year's leading rusher, Jared Becker, the line will be clearing the way for a new tailback in senior Greg Pantuso. Last season, Pantuso carried the ball 24 times for 131 yards and four touchdowns in a reserve role.

Loughran has a couple of options at quarterback this season. Junior Nick Scholle figures to be the starter, and last year's leading passer — senior Mike McLaughlin — has been lining up at wide receiver.

“We're going to use Mike more at wide receiver and see how that works,” Loughran said.

Along with McLaughlin, South Park's senior leadership will come from fullback/linebacker Brandon Umenhofer and two-way lineman Chris Boff.

“They were starters on defense last year,” Loughran said of Umenhofer and Boff. “We need them to step up and be leaders this year.”

Loughran had Boff penciled in at center, but he could wind up sliding to another position up front.

“Every year is a new puzzle,” Loughran said. “We just need to figure out where these kids fit.”

South Park's 2012 campaign concluded with a 3-6 record and a 3-5 mark in Century Conference play.

The high point of the Eagles' season was back-to-back road victories over McGuffey and Keystone Oaks.

The Eagles were competitive in nearly every game last season, but breakdowns in key situations led to some tough losses.

“We did more things to hurt ourselves than our opponents did,” Loughran said. “We did too many things that were counterproductive.

“We have to eliminate the physical and mental mistakes and put ourselves in a position to be successful.”

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