Sophomore quarterback hoping to lead Norwin to bigger things
By Doug Gulasy
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
The noise about Norwin's starting quarterback is much quieter heading into the 2013 regular-season opener.
Nick Amendola isn't complaining.
“It definitely is a different feeling,” said the sophomore, entering his first full season as the Knights' starting signal-caller. “(Last year), everybody had that hype, saying, ‘Oh, a freshman,' and everything.”
Norwin will begin the 2013 regular season at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Altoona with no questions about the identity of its No. 1 quarterback.
It's a much different scenario than 2012, when Amendola, Sean Bowen and John Driggers began the season in competition for the job.
Eventually, Amendola won out, as the freshman earned the lion's share of snaps down the stretch and led the team in passing (671 yards, five touchdowns) and rushing (489, five).
Along the way, Amendola's poise impressed Norwin coach Art Tragesser.
“That's really a tough situation to place him in as a freshman, to come up and be the starting quarterback in Quad-A football,” Tragesser said. “I still have to keep reminding myself he's only a sophomore. He has shown great improvement, great strides at that position.
“The best thing about Nick is he is such a competitor.He just hates to lose, and that's what I think makes him a great high school football player. He hates to lose, (is a) great competitor, and he motivates and drives the other kids.”
Amendola enters his second season a more confident quarterback because of his knowledge of the offense.
“(Learning) the plays — that was the biggest thing (last year),” he said. “I'm not the fastest learner, so it took me a while just to know the plays.”
“I think he's got more leadership this year,” senior Billy Zatezalo said. “He can take over the team now. No one thinks, ‘Oh, he's a sophomore, we're not going to listen to him.' He takes control in the huddle.”
Amendola showed off his improved play during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association 7-on-7 tournament, when he led Norwin to four wins in five preliminary games before the Knights fell to Penn-Trafford in the championship.
“It did feel good, even if we lost to our rival,” Amendola said. “It felt good winning some games (and beating) some teams we didn't think we could beat.”
Because 7-on-7s are based entirely around passing, Amendola also got the chance to work on his mechanics, as well as timing with the wide receivers.
Though Amendola is a dual-threat quarterback, he hopes to put some of his passing improvements to good use this season.
“I'm going to try to pass more this year for sure and save myself from getting killed,” he said. “But we'll see.”
While Norwin went winless in 2011 and won just two games last season, Amendola believes better things are on the horizon.
With other key players returning at the skill positions, the Knights set a minimum expectation of making the playoffs this season.
“I think we're done in that building stage,” Amendola said. “We've got everybody pretty much where they should be. We'll see (what happens).”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
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