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Blairsville to rely on skill positions

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Daniel Kubus | For The Tribune-Review
Quarterback Scott Thompson runs through a drill during practice on August 12, 2013 at Blairsville Area High School.

When Blairsville opens the 2013 season, expect to hear some familiar names. Just don't count longtime coach Ab Dettorre's among them.

After 26 years on the Bobcats' sideline, Dettorre abruptly resigned in June, citing differences with the Blairsville-Saltsburg school board.

Rick Artley, who coached 15 seasons on Dettorre's staff, was named his successor. Artley, who served as Blairsville's offensive coordinator, said he is excited about the offensive potential returning this year.

“It'll be a smooth transition for us,” Artley said. “Nothing much is really changing at all. We just wish coach the best.”

Dettorre, who was inducted into the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame in May, compiled a record of 147-99-4 at Blairsville, winning four Heritage Conference championships from 2002-05.

His 2012 team posted a 6-4 overall mark and 5-3 in the Heritage Conference.

“(Dettorre) definitely was around for a long time,” said Artley, who is the third head coach in 47 years at Blairsville. “I've learned a lot from him, and the kids have learned a lot from him. We've all been in it together.”

Blairsville will rely on experienced skill-position players on offense — junior quarterback Scott Thompson, junior running back Deion Robinson and senior wide receiver Colton McMillen among them.

Artley said he is hoping for better play on the defensive side, where all three will be expected to contribute.

“We've got eight starters back on offense, so we're pretty confident we'll be able to move the football with some consistency,” Artley said. “We've got a handful of starters back on defense. That's where we would like to improve, and it starts with fundamentals. The key is tackling.”

The combination of Thompson's passing and Robinson's running was effective for the Bobcats last year. As sophomores, they combined to produce 2,700 yards — Thompson passing for 1,425 and rushing for 486 and Robinson rushing for 789.

“We know we can put points on the board,” said the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Thompson, who also plays safety. “We need to figure out how to perform better on defense.”

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