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New era begins for Deer Lakes football

Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch - Deer Lakes' Josh Plocki is expected to be a key contributor this season.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Erica Dietz  |  Valley News Dispatch</em></div>Deer Lakes' Josh Plocki is expected to be a key contributor this season.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Disp - Deer Lakes Josh Plocki photographed on Tuesday, August 13, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Erica Dietz  |  Valley News Disp</em></div>Deer Lakes Josh Plocki photographed on Tuesday, August 13, 2013.

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Deer Lakes

Year opened: 1969

Last year's record: 3-6

All-time record: 154-260-9

Head coach: T.J. Wiley, first year

Record at current post: 0-0

Career record: 13-15

Top high school sports
By George Guido
Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

New coaching staff. New offensive scheme to learn. No problem.

That's how returning Deer Lakes quarterback Josh Plocki is looking at preparation for the upcoming season.

After completing 50 passes for 530 yards and seven touchdowns last season, Plocki was ready for his senior season.

“It's much different when you're under the same staff for three years and you come in and the schedules and the formations are different,” Plocki said. “It's an adjustment, but I think we're coming along pretty well.”

T.J. Wiley has taken over the coaching reins at Deer Lakes and is installing a spread offense, similar to what he employed at Northgate the past two seasons.

Plocki said there has been little difficulty picking up the new offense.

“Actually, I think we've done a pretty good job of putting things in at practice,” Plocki said. “It's going to be just a matter of going out and executing. We're pretty confident in what we've done so far.”

“Josh has great leadership qualities,” Wiley said. “He's not a very vocal kid. Not a rah-rah guy, but an extremely hard worker. People follow him through his actions. He's very blue collar in his work ethic.”

Earlier in the summer, Wiley scheduled the Lancers for seven-on-seven drills against larger high schools to show the players how well they can compete.

“Josh has really grown from the late spring,” Wiley said “His reads have gotten better. He knows when to put touch on the ball and when to zip it in there. In our last seven-on-seven tournament up in Erie, he looked phenomenal. Even some other coaches from around that area said the same thing.”

Deer Lakes will open its 45th football season against visiting Valley on Aug. 30. The Lancers' schedule will be identical to last year, only with the 2012 sites reversed.

On defense, Plocki will continue to play cornerback. The defense will also use some different looks than in the past.

“He's a tremendous defensive back,” Wiley said. “Josh's technique is top-notch. He's going to be a player on both sides of the ball for us.”

Plocki agrees it's a great time to be a Deer Lakes sports fan.

The boys basketball team is coming off its first section title in 21 years, and the baseball team reached the WPIAL semifinals for the first time in 18 years. The boys volleyball, softball and girls basketball programs continue to excel.

“We've been practicing for the last few months and have been waiting to make some excitement and win some games this year,” Plocki said.

“Josh wants to be part of the senior class that lays the foundation to get this thing turned around and get us on the map,” Wiley said.

This could be the final season of competitive sports for Plocki. He plans on attending Pitt and is looking into the university's engineering program.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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