New East Allegheny coach will lean on veteran QB Kyle Whipple
New East Allegheny football coach Dom Pecora is dealing with a significant amount of uncertainty with his team coming off a 1-8 season.
But he knows who his quarterback is, and he knows that it's his quarterback who can turn a season of transition into a successful one.
Senior quarterback Kyle Whipple must learn a new offense under a new coaching staff, and he is surrounded by youthful teammates. But the new coach believes in the incumbent quarterback.
“We absolutely will go as far as he takes us,” Pecora said. “He's just a good football player, and he is, without question, our leader.”
Whipple's talent — to say nothing of his ability to adapt quickly — is being tested this summer. Pecora's offense relies heavily on the option.
“I actually think he's picked it up pretty well so far,” Pecora said. “He's a good athlete. He's not the fastest kid in the world, but what I like about him is his ability to make the proper reads. That's important, and I think he's starting to get it.”
Playing in the read-option offense is not foreign to Whipple.
As a freshman, Whipple studied the quarterback position while playing at Serra Catholic under coach Jamie Eckels, who ran the option.
“I definitely learned some things at Serra when it comes to the option,” Whipple said. “I'm still learning, but it's been a change for me because I've always been pretty comfortable throwing the ball.”
East Allegheny's offense last season, in fact, was considerably different.
Although the Wildcats still ran the ball more than 50 percent of the time in 2012, they were then under the direction of coach Jason Ruscitto, who came from a Sto-Rox team that favored putting the ball in the air.
“I know that this offense is much different,” Pecora said. “But you can see him picking it up now. He is starting to look much more comfortable.”
When East Allegheny does choose to look downfield, Whipple will be at ease. He threw for 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns with only four interceptions last season.
“I do love to throw,” Whipple said with a smile.
He better love to lead, too.
Pecora admitted that, for the Wildcats to develop a strong program, changes need to be made.
“We've got a long way to go,” he said. “I mean, we aren't going to be the program that we want to be until all the simple things are taken care of. People showing up on time for practice, people being committed to what we're doing here. Did you show up at school? Stuff like that needs to happen.”
Pecora is not discouraged, and he doesn't plan on looking elsewhere for work. This is the job he wanted.
“I don't want to go anywhere,” Pecora said. “I want to be here forever.”
He'll have Whipple as his quarterback for only one season, but he believes the senior possesses the ability to make it a winning season.
“There's no point in being here if we don't think we can make the playoffs,” Pecora said. “And we've got the quarterback who can lead us there. We really do believe in what he can bring us. He's the true leader of this football team.”