Southmoreland gridders busy preparing for 2014 season
The start of the WPIAL football season may be about two months away, but that doesn't mean teams already aren't preparing for the upcoming campaign.
It has often been said the seeds for a successful season are planted in the offseason.
The Southmoreland football team is among those working for what it hopes is a successful 2014 campaign on the gridiron.
It appears to be working, at least in the summer months.
The Scotties were among about 20 teams that participated in the recent Big Man Challenge at the University of Pittsburgh. There were several WPIAL schools represented, as well as teams from Ohio and West Virginia.
“They hold a number of events,” said Mark Adams, preparing for his second year as Southmoreland football coach. “The first year, I went down with Dom (former Southmoreland football coach Pecora) and we didn't fare very well....I realized we needed more strength and speed.”
In past years, Southmoreland skill players participated in the challenge, but this year Adams just brought linemen and the Scotties finished in an impressive fifth place. The Scotties only trailed four quality football programs — Woodland Hills, Peters Township, Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Penn-Trafford.
“I was pleased with that,” Adams said. “We were missing two or three guys. I think we would have finished higher....That's a positive sign to our team to let them know they've gotten stronger. At least, strength-wise we match up with some of these teams.”
Adams said his team will be participating in other seven-on-seven events — including one at Southmoreland — and prospect camps throughout the summer and will continue other offseason regimens such as lifting.
Members of the Scotties' grid squad already have participated in events at Duquesne University, Washington & Jefferson College and in the state of Virginia.
A majority of the kids who will be counted on for the Scotties to have gridiron success this season have been regular participants in the offseason programs.
“It's great to see your kids get out in the summer, get their eyes opened up to some of the things going on around them, let them know they're not the only ones,” Adams said.
Adams also is seeing a change as representatives from Division I colleges have dropped by to take a look at some of the Scotties.
“We've had some big-time recruiters come through this school and that's big for our program,” Adams said. “I like to see that. It sheds some light on some of the things that we are doing.”
Adams realizes the importance of hard work in the offseason. Southmoreland is the team with the longest playoff drought in the WPIAL, not qualifying for the postseason since 1979. Last season, the Scotties, finished with a 4-6 record while participating in the tough Class AA Interstate Conference. “It's very important for our growth,” Adams said.
“If you judge the teams that are decent, they're always doing this. This is what they do to stay on top. For us, this is important in our growth factor, not only in our mental approach to the game and the physical to see where size up with the good programs.”
Adams admitted the Scotties have been paying particular attention to upgrading the passing game for the 2014 season. Last season's squad relied heavily on a ground game paced by running back Jake Pisula, who broke the school's single-season rushing record with 1,609 yards. Pisula does return, but Adams realizes balance is key.
“We want to be able to balance it out,” Adams said. “I think we've been able to come up with a scheme that fits us well. Hopefully, it pans out on the field....We've got to be able to give the ball flight.”
With all of the offseason preparation, Adams said a key ingredient to any success will come with attitude.
“We've got to get everybody to believe,” he said. “It's that type of approach I'm looking at. For Southmoreland to change it's going to take a community....We're heading in the right direction.”
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.