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Penn-Trafford still looking to improve after Week 2 win

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:24 a.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford wide receiver Timmy Vecchio (3) celebrates his 85-yard touchdown pass with teammates against Norwin during the first quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at Warrior Stadium in Harrison City.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford defensive back Zack Queen (6) intercepts a pass intended for Norwin wide receiver Niko Socoolas (1) during the fourth quarter of their WPIAL Class AAAA game on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at Warrior Stadium in Harrison City. Penn-Trafford defeated Norwin, 17-3.

With a goal of winning the Quad East this season, the Penn-Trafford football team wanted to begin section play with a victory last week.

The Warriors accomplished that, but coach John Ruane is still hoping for more from his team in the coming weeks.

Penn-Trafford (1-1, 1-0 Quad East) bounced back from a season-opening loss by defeating Norwin, 17-3, last Friday at Warrior Stadium.

Still, Ruane said many of the problems that plagued his team in a 21-14 loss to North Hills a week earlier continued on Friday night.

“We have to get better in certain areas still,” Ruane said. “It's early in the season, so we're going to continue to work at improving on certain things. I felt like we played with a lot of energy in the fourth quarter compared to a week ago. I thought we ran to the football a lot better as well.”

The areas Ruane is still focusing on include tackling and finishing drives.

Through two games, Penn-Trafford has scored 31 points. The Warriors turned the ball over three times against Norwin, with a couple of those miscues costing them chances to score.

“The more points we score, the more players we get involved in the game,” Ruane said. “We've kind of been limited as far as the number of guys we've been getting into the game because we're not even doing special teams with turnovers and things like that. It's strictly offense and defense. So there's a lot of angles for how you can look at it, but basically we have to get better.”

The rushing offense is leading the way for Penn-Trafford through two games. Junior Devin Austin rushed for 185 yards against Norwin, while Tom Stinelli added 86 yards and a touchdown.

At this point, however, Ruane is looking for more balance offensively. While quarterback Brett Laffoon and receiver Timmy Vecchio connected on an 85-yard touchdown pass against Norwin, the Warriors have mostly stuck to a run-first approach through the first two games. Ruane said he would look to change that in the coming weeks — possibly as early as this week's game at Altoona.

“Teams are going to start stacking the box, and we're going to have to do something about that,” Ruane said.

Defensively, the Warriors forced Norwin to commit four turnovers. Senior Ryan Marasti's second-quarter interception snuffed out a Norwin scoring opportunity, while junior Zack Queen came up with two big interceptions in the fourth quarter — including one that led to Penn-Trafford's final touchdown.

“That last one seemed to be the dagger for them because we drove the ball right down the field and scored the final touchdown,” Ruane said.

Still, Ruane said tackling issues remain for the Warriors. That concerns him with Friday's game at Altoona.

While the Mountain Lions failed to score last week in a 20-0 loss to Kiski, Mountain Lions quarterback Eli Mencer rushed for 115 yards the week before in a 21-0 victory over Norwin.

“It's going to be a battle,” Ruane said. “They're a good football team — in particular their defense. They take pride in what they do on D. They have some talent on offense. They have a humungous running back who's a bruiser. So we have to (improve) tackling, but we've got to be in position first and foremost. They're a good football team, (and) they're well-coached.”

While the Mountain Lions' team will present a challenge, so will the two-hour trip to Altoona. Ruane said the team would leave extra early on Friday in order to stick as closely as possible to its routine.

“The trip itself is a whole different ballgame,” he said. “It just gets you out of your routine. Altoona is used to it because they do it every road game. We're not, so that's something we're going to have to get acclimated to early on.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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