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Carlynton looking for 1st postseason appearance since 2001

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Carlynton's Freddie McKessik works out during practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at Honus Wagner Field in Carnegie.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Carlynton's Isiah Canton works out during practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at Honus Wagner Field in Carnegie.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Carlynton's Mike Walkoviak works out during practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at Honus Wagner Field in Carnegie.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Carlynton's Dale Rybicki (left) and Courtney Mickens work out during practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at Honus Wagner Field in Carnegie.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Carlynton coach Terry George leads practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at Honus Wagner Field in Carnegie.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Carlynton coach Terry George leads practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, at Honus Wagner Field in Carnegie.

After losing several of its top skill-position players to graduation, Carlynton will rely on younger athletes to step up and make an impact in 2013.

“We lost some key receivers, but I think we will be able to replace them with younger kids,” third-year coach Terry George said. “These players have been in the system for two years and should be able to replace what we lost.”

Senior Freddie McKessick likely will fill the quarterback role; he injured his shoulder early last year and played sparingly. Kevin Schuster filled in behind center for the majority of the 2012 campaign.

“(McKessick) has more experience at quarterback, and we are leaning on him,” George said. “I am not saying (Schuster) won't get time. He threw well in seven-on-sevens and has really improved.”

Senior Tyler Bly and junior Tyree Johnson will provide targets for the quarterback, as will senior tight ends Devin Miller and Mike Brunner. Senior Evan Ban will be used in both the passing and rushing attack.

The running game will be bolstered by the return of junior Dale Rybachi and sophomore Isiah Canton.

“Our offense is a little complicated, and it takes some time to grasp,” George said.

“But you get a kid like (Canton) who was thrown in because of Nick Lang getting injured in the second scrimmage, he is going to be impressive. (Rybachi) is more of a power guy who has been working hard on his speed.”

The Cougars will benefit from an experienced offensive line. All the returning athletes are multi-year starters, including seniors Jesse Pigon, Christian Franchick, Joey Martin and Michal Walkoviak. Junior Mike Griffin has played center since he was a freshman. Many of the linemen will play both ways as the Cougars will be moving from a three-man to a four-man front.

“You never know what you will get in camp,” George said. “If we can find guys to play the defense and give the offensive line a break, that would really help out.”

Rybachi will return to the middle linebacker position while McKessick and Canton are learning both the linebacker and safety positions.

If the players can keep developing, the Cougars may be able to claw their way to their first appearance in the WPIAL playoffs since 2001.

“I don't think anything better could happen to the program than make the playoffs,” George said. “That is the ultimate goal. We want to get better each week.”

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