Chartiers Valley offense continues to evolve
By Nathan Smith
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
After Niel Loebig was named the Chartiers Valley football coach during the offseason, he decided an uptempo spread offense would best fit the program.
The coaches of the middle school program expressed concern about running a similar style, but Loebig said picking it up is as easy as learning the lyrics of a hit song.
“If a kid hears a song twice, they know all the words because it is important to them,” Loebig said. “We believe the players will learn what you expect them to learn. We stress the importance of signals and communication.”
While the team struggled with turnovers in a Week 1, 56-23 loss to Moon and a 49-0 setback to Central Valley in Week 3, the team showed its capabilities in a 34-14 win over Hopewell in between. Loebig said the win showed that when the Colts are executing, they will be able to control the flow of the game.
“As a staff, we believe there are certain things we can control,” Loebig said. “Things like the tempo of the game and being in shape. Since we can control that, we want to definitely control (tempo) in games.”
And while it took time to learn, the Colts love the concept.
“Last year we ran more of a triple-option,” senior receiver Anthony Voss said. “We didn't really have the quarterback for that. He is more of a thrower. It fits better.”
The success of the offense will come down to increased passes from senior Josh Lapiana. The second-year starter threw for 1,036 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011.
He has thrown for 647 yards and four touchdowns this season.
“He matured over the summer — not as a person but as a player,” Loebig said. “He is understanding more each week and becoming more comfortable. Our backup Jake Collins is pushing him every day.
“There is nothing better than having competition.”
Lapiana said he spent the offseason improving his physical tools for this season.
But he credits his success so far this season to increased play from the rest of the offense.
“The offensive line has been great,” the gunslinger said. “Everyone from the left tackle to the right tackle is stepping up. And the receivers are making plays. We have a great relationship.”
The receiver core is led by Dom Castello, who is making a return to the gridiron after sitting out several seasons. The senior recorded eight receptions for 200 yards and a pair of scores during the first two weeks of the season.
“It wasn't hard to build a relationship with Lapiana,” Castello said. “We played basketball and baseball together last season. We were already pretty close.”
He is joined by Voss, junior Anthony Egnatz and sophomore Delmar King.
While the team isn't afraid to run plays without a huddle, Chartiers Valley won't shy away from slowing the offensive attack if the game calls for it.
The team is continuing its development of the rushing attack with senior Andreo Coury, junior Tanner Garris and sophomores Austin Gromeck and Phil Pesano pounding it out on the ground.
“The running back position is still to be determined,” Loebig said. “We have several guys battling for playing time.
“I am happy with the guys we have. We are young and getting better.”
As the team moves deeper into the Parkway Conference and battles the likes of Blackhawk, Montour and West Allegheny, the Colts offense will need to continue improving to find success.
But if the players can continue doing their jobs, Chartiers Valley will be in position to clinch its first playoff berth since 2011.
“Everyone has a responsibility,” Lapiana said. “It doesn't matter if you have the most talented guy in the world or least (talented). If guys take care of their responsibility, you will make plays.
“It is the nature of football.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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