New Bishop Canevin coach looking to keep tradition strong
The 2013 Bishop Canevin football team will have something no other Crusader squad has had in 40 years – a first-year head coach.
Many of the players were stunned when long-time coach Bob Jacoby retired from the role in January. His replacement is Darren Schoppe, a Bishop Canevin grad who played on the 1990 PIAA runner-up team and was an assistant under Jacoby for a number of years. He most recently was the defensive coordinator at South Fayette.
“We did not see it coming,” senior Mark DeSchon said. “He came in and told us and it was a shock. But when the new coaches came in, the transition was pretty easy. The team handled it pretty well.”
Being an alumnus of the school and the football program, Schoppe said he would like to keep the traditions Bishop Canevin has been built upon while mixing in some of his own ideas.
“This program has always been successful,” Schoppe said. “It has been known as a physical team and we hope to keep the defense similar to what has been done in the past. But we are looking to bring in a new offensive style.”
The Crusader offense will look to fit the kids over the kids fitting the system, according to Schoppe. While he didn't go into much detail of the offensive scheme, whatever is run will be done so by an inexperienced gunslinger.
Junior Reed Relosky, sophomore Dom Palmosina and freshman Austin Scott are competing for the role. While they lack experience, a battle in camp should bring out the best of each.
“Competition between anybody drives them to get better,” Schoppe said.
Plenty of skill position players will be able to help whoever gets the starting nod. Senior Tyler Reddy was an offensive force last season, recording five touchdowns as well as 360 rushing yards, 179 receiving yards and completed three passes for 162 yards. Schoppe said he will look to keep Reddy in a utility player role.
“I like it,” Reddy said. “Whatever I can do to help the team I like doing.”
Junior tailback Giovanni DeMarzo will look to pick up where he left off last season when a separated shoulder sidelined him. He finished 2012 with 422 yards and three touchdowns.
“I am 100 percent and ready to go,” DeMarzo said. “I am hoping to be better than 100 percent.”
Canevin has had a long line of successful fullbacks and DeSchon will be filling the role this season Last year's fullback, Jim Tersak, led the team with 12 touchdowns.
“I am not big on fame and the headlines,” DeSchon said. “Being the guy who blocks and lets the skinnier, not as tough guys score is OK with me.
“As long as I do my part and we win, I don't care if the touchdown is next to my name or someone else's.”
Seniors Luke DeCello and Zach Cortese will provide Bishop Canevin is receiving threats.
If any spot on the roster is a question mark, it is the offensive line. The team returns multiyear starter Tanner Richardson. Outside of that, the team will turn to new faces such as juniors Matt Hartzell and Nathan Quince as well as sophomores Alex Simpson and Jack Reddy.
While there will be several new players, Richardson expects the line to be able to protect the quarterback and provide holes for the running backs.
“Last year, (DeMarzo) and (Reddy) ran the ball well,” Richardson said. “We changed the blocking scheme up but we should be able to help them to blow holes wide open.
“They will make us look good that's for sure.”
The defense will need to find a way to replace middle linebacker Mike Dunn, who finished his career as the school's all-time leading tackler. DeSchon will move from the outside to middle line backer spot and will be joined by Tyler Reddy and Cortese.
The defensive secondary should be talented as the team returns cornerbacks Relosky and DeMarzo.
No matter how many spots need to be filled, Schoppe is looking to continue the strong defensive tradition. As defensive coordinator at South Fayette last season, the Lions recorded six shutouts and did not give up a passing touchdown.
“My background in the sport is defense, and I obviously learned a lot from Bishop Canevin,” Schoppe said. “We are looking to have a continuation of what they did defensively.”
The Bishop Canevin schedule took a hit when Black Hills Conference member Imani Christian cancelled its season due to low numbers. This left the Crusaders without a Week One opponent and the team is in the works to find an opponent.
While the team does not know its opponent in the first week of the season, it is circling the game in Week Three on its calendar.
“I am looking to give Carlynton a good piece of my Canevin mind,” Richardson said.
While the Crusaders are going to be breaking in new faces on offense, defense and the sidelines, Schoppe isn't going to change expectations of what he wants to achieve.
“We are looking to compete for a championship,” he said. “We want to reach the playoffs, compete and gain experience along the way.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.Reach him at at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.