Yough's progression includes playoff appearance
By Bill Hughes
Published: Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
When teams are rebuilt, they often go through a natural progression.
Much like babies must learn to roll over before they can crawl before they can walk before they can run, the same can be said for teams.
A perfect case in point may be the Yough football program.
A closer look of the Cougars under the watch of fourth-year coach Mark Crovak could be the epitome of the natural progression of a program.
In Crovak's first season, Yough went 0-9 in 2010 before improving to 2-9 in 2011.
Last year, the Cougars finished 4-5 and had the playoffs in their grasp.
A 14-12 loss to Greensburg Central Catholic in Week 8 put the Centurions in the playoffs and left Yough on the outside looking in.
“We fumbled three times inside their 10-yard line,” Crovak said. “The payoffs were right there and the guys have not forgotten.”
Several freshmen on that 0-9 team in 2010 are now seniors. The Cougars have two players with three years of starting experience and two who have started since they were freshmen.
Quarterback Tyler Donahue and inside linebacker Lucas Richardson enter their fourth year as starters while running back and nose tackle Tom Sever and running back and junior safety Clayton Waldron enter their third seasons as starters on both sides of the ball.
Add in senior Joe Pleva, who returns as a starter at cornerback, and the Cougars have plenty of experience.
That is not lost on Crovak.
“This senior class is something else,” he said. “They lead on and off the field, including in the classroom, and the younger kids feed off of that.
“The younger kids emulate the seniors, and the seniors lead by example.”
Sever and Waldron will be joined in the backfield by sophomore Noah Lee in Crovak's spread offense.
Pleva is the lone senior wide receiver, but he is joined in the deep corps by junior John Paul Sommers and sophomores Jordan Bryan, Eric Borkovich, and Ben Baldwin.
When the Cougars go to sets with tight ends, Richardson and junior Eric Baer will both see time at the position.
Four seniors are starting on the offensive line with Jacob Brundage at left tackle, Jerry Koza at left guard, Shaun Phillips at center and Chandler Daniel at right tackle.
A pair of juniors, Tobi Kuroda and Seth Miller, will see time at right guard.
The Cougars run a 3-4 defensive set.
Sever is the nose tackle while Daniel and Brundage are the starting defensive ends. Also seeing time at end will be Koza, Phillips, Kuroda and Miller.
At outside linebacker will be Molnar, Baer, and junior Rick Jaffe.
Joining Richardson as an inside linebacker is senior Nick Payne, while Lee will also see time there.
Donahue, Waldron and Borkovich will handle the safety duties, while Bryan, Pleva and Baldwin are the cornerbacks.
Senior Dan Turnsek is the kicker and Donahue is the punter.
Yough will try to avoid the midseason swoon that hit last year. After winning their first two games by an average score of 42-9, the Cougars dropped their next four and gave up at least 40 points in each contest.
“I think it was part mental, and in the past the teams would have folded,” Crovak said. “But this group of seniors, we have not had this kind of leadership here. The guys have worked hard all offseason and I am extremely happy with it.”
Crovak said the numbers at weightlifting sessions were off the charts.
“My first year, we had more coaches than players at weight lifting,” he said. “We routinely had 30 or players for conditioning.”
It goes without saying, according to Crovak, that the playoffs are the goal this year.
“We want to be in that group of players that keep playing,” he said. “The guys want it, and they feel that they squandered an opportunity last year.”
How will Yough return to the playoffs?
“We have to take care of the little things that we can control and play our style of play,” Crovak said. “If we do the little things, everything else will fall into place.”
Yough opens its season, and Class AA Interstate play, when it hosts Charleroi Friday.
Bill Hughes is a freelance writer.
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.