Southmoreland football team changes offensive scheme for 2013
As hard as it is to believe, the 2013 high school football season is about ready to kick off.
Teams are wrapping up two weeks of two-a-day practices and players and coaches are excited for the opening of the regular season.
It is no different for the players and coaching staff at Southmoreland, where the Mark Adams era begins Aug. 30 at home against the Jeannette Jayhawks.
“We are in the process of getting ready for this season,” said Adams. “We want to be competitive and to win the support of our fans and of our community.”
The Scotties return 12 lettermen from last year's team that finished 3-6, 3-5 in the Class AA Interstate Conference. With only six seniors currently on the roster, the Scotties are a young, but hungry team.
“We have a lot of underclassmen that will make an impact this year,” Adams said.
Two of those underclassmen are junior quarterbacks Brennon Cole and Brennan Bunner. One of these two will be called upon to replace Dakota Datz who threw for more than 1,700 yards in 2011. Datz also was a shifty runner who rushed for more than 100 yards in two games last season.
“Right now, we have a two-way battle at the quarterback position,” said Adams. “Both kids have some remarkable ability. Cole has never really played quarterback before, but is progressing more and more each day, while Bunner has some of the best footwork I have ever seen from a young quarterback.”
Last season, the Scotties ran a spread offense and relied heavily upon the quarterback for production. Under the new power offense installed by Adams and his staff, the quarterback will be in a better position to manage the game.
When the Scotties run the ball, the load will be primarily carried by junior tailback Jake Pisula. Pisula rushed for more than 800 yards as a sophomore last season, after taking over the position midway through the year.
“Jake is a big part of our offense and he has spent the off season building himself up. We are looking for big things from him,” said Adams.
Kyle Cohen will join Pisula in the backfield at the fullback position. Cohen, at 5 feet, 9 inches and 190 lbs, is a hard, solid runner who keeps his feet moving until the whistle blows on every play.
When the Scotties do put the ball in the air this season, both quarterbacks will have a talented group of receivers to throw to.
Aaron Bailey — 6 feet, 1 inch, 200 pounds — will occupy the slot position.
“Aaron has good hands and speed,” said Adams. “He has grown tremendously and I am excited to see what he can do.”
Justin Livengood will line up opposite of Bailey, and Adams had nothing but praise for both of his wideouts.
“Justin has really come on in the last couple of years, and he will do some good things for us,” said Adams.
With the power offense, Southmoreland will involve the tight end more, and Chas King will step into that role nicely for the Scotties.
“Chas has started for us since he was a freshman,” said Adams “He has good hands and knows how to find the soft spots underneath the defensive coverage.”
When ask to point out one player that he has been most impressed by so far this season, Adams pointed to third receiver and special-teams standout in Tommy Pisula.
“This kid just continues to grow and grow, “ said Adams. “I love what he brings to the table and I think he will be doing some tremendous things for us this season.”
For any of the Scotties skill players to do anything, Southmoreland will have to control the line of scrimmage, and Adams smiles when asked about this season's group of linemen.
“Our line is definitely the strength of our team,” Adams explained. “As they go, so will our team”.
Just as the quarterback calls the plays, the center calls the blocking schemes for Southmoreland. According to Adams, there is currently a heavyweight battle between Travis Jones and Burt Leasure to see who that signal caller will be.
“Both players are working hard to win that position, and it may come right down to the wire,” said Adams.
Joe Espy and Jake Beistel will line up at either of the guard positions, and both supply the power and speed that could lead to big holes for Pisula and Cohen to run through.
Beistel made quite an impression as a starter last season, and Adams and the Scotties are looking for even more from him this season.
At the tackle positions, Jordan Pawlikowsky and Doug Leighty provide additional size and speed to help keep the opponents defensive lines in check, and should provide either of the quarterbacks the time to stand in the pocket and find their receivers, instead of scrambling for their lives.
“We have got to take charge of ‘no man's land,'” said Adams. “Our line deserves credit anytime a back gains over 100 yards, and I intend to give this group all of the recognition they deserve.”
With many of the offensive pieces seemingly in place, it all becomes a matter of execution.
If the offense executes and keeps the defense off the field for long stretches at a time, Adams goal of being competitive becomes that much easier.
Mark King is a contributing writer.