Plum's Turchick driven by opportunity
It's been a little more than three years since a severe leg injury took an entire football season from Nathan Turchick.
Playing for the Plum Little Mustangs Midget football team, Turchick suffered a broken femur during the 2010 season opener against Penn Hills.
After surgery, a long recovery followed well into his eighth-grade academic year.
Despite the setback, Turchick returned to a game he loves. The injury, he said, taught him to not take anything for granted.
Now, as a junior, he hopes to make the opposition feel the pain from his inside linebacker position.
“In games, you never really know if it could be your last,” Turchick said.
“It reminds me to never take a play off and enjoy every second I am on the field.”
The Plum co-captain, who will lead his Mustangs teammates against Quad Central foe Bethel Park in Friday's season opener, posted a team-best 51 tackles last season, including seven for a loss.
The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder made the move from the defensive line to inside linebacker in the offseason.
“I am just excited to be out on the field and play every day,” Turchick said.
Plum is gunning for an improved season after going 0-9 in 2012. The Mustangs are hoping to snap a 16-game losing streak dating to early in the 2011 season.
Turchick said that a strong season can happen but only with the dedication from every single player on the field.
“Any play you take off, you are hurting the team, not just yourself,” Turchick said. “If we want to get better, everyone has to worry about the team and put the team first.”
Turchick said he is feeling really comfortable with the offensive and defensive changes implemented by new Plum coach Matt Morgan and his coaching staff.
“They fit very well with the profile of our team,” he said. “When you get a new coach, you aren't sure how it's going to work out. We loved (former head) Coach (Frank) Sacco, but working with the new coaches has been going great.
“We know we have to worry about the little things. One small wrong step could mean a touchdown in a game. That one step could be the difference between winning and losing. It all starts with taking care of the little things in practice. It all adds up.”
Turchick taking care of the little things has impressed Morgan.
“I've challenged him to step into that leadership role,” Morgan said. “He has taken command (of the defense huddle) and done a great job for us.”
Turchick said there are some situations where he needs to be the playmaker, but he said he knows how vital it is to trust in his teammates to also makes plays.
“In the zone defense we've been working in, you have to fill your gap and know your teammates will do the same,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence we can be a strong defense this year.”
Turchick said he has the drive to be a hard-nosed inside linebacker.
“I just simply want to go out there and make a play,” Turchick said. “You have to play linebacker with speed, intensity and toughness. The guys on the other side of the ball want to do the same thing. You have to have a mean attitude. If you wait and take a hit, you're going to get hurt. If you give the hit, it hurts a lot less.”
Michael Love is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.