Norwin sophomore QB strives to avoid repeating past
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Norwin sophomore quarterback Nick Amendola, who became the starter as a freshman, laughed while two groundhogs chased each other on the Knights' practice facility Monday.
Then, he was reminded those two groundhogs represent the number of wins Norwin has produced during the past two seasons.
He turned serious.
“I really think that can change,” he said. “You know, we've got good players here and we're working hard. We believe in ourselves, that we can turn this around. We do feel confident.”
Consider his coach a believer.
Injuries forced Amendola into the lineup last season. Such a stage for a ninth-grader rarely produces any positives, but Amendola was far more advanced than anyone had realized.
Norwin coach Art Tragesser was surprised by the precocious freshman.
He's even more impressed with the 10th-grade version of Amendola.
“I often have to remind myself that he is only a sophomore,” Tragesser said. “A lot of times, you find yourself not necessarily expecting much from kids his age. But he's been different. Some kids his age wouldn't even be a starter for another year, but he's more than capable. He's a good one. He was thrown into the fire last season and he did such of a nice job for us.”
Amendola accounted for more than 700 yards last season in limited action, showing signs of becoming a dual threat. He rushed for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns.
He has a better grasp on Norwin's offense this season — “Much better, actually,” he said — and has enjoyed a benefit of being so young.
“He's actually gotten a little bigger this year,” Tragesser said. “That's one thing we've really noticed, and of course he has a better feel for the offense than he did a year ago. He's really looking very good.”
Tragesser, in his third season at Norwin, is one of the WPIAL's most respected coaches.
But he isn't the least bit pleased with a 2-16 record during his first two seasons leading the Knights.
“You're never satisfied in this game,” he said. “Right now I feel like there are so many things that we want to get done and there isn't any time.”
Tragesser believes there is enough talent in Norwin to make the past two seasons nothing but a memory. He shakes his head when thinking of the winless 2011 season and the 2-7 campaign in 2012.
“We haven't made progress yet,” he said. “We've only won two games. I'm just trying to instill in these kids that it's time to raise their expectations and their level of play. Everyone has to do that.”
Amendola will be the focal point. He has legitimate targets in Logan Deri and Kyle Baum.
The quarterback also plans on running plenty in Tragesser's offense.
“I love to run,” Amendola said. “I think it's going to be a big part of my game this year.”
Even though Norwin plays in a conference with Class AAAA heavyweights such as McKeesport and Gateway, Tragesser remains confident.
And he made it clear his quarterback is a big reason for that belief.
“He's a good young player, and we really do have some talent here to do something,” Tragesser said. “We want to make the playoffs this year, and we want to get to the point where making the playoffs becomes a consistent thing.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.