Militzer filled with enthusiasm
First-year Charleroi Area football coach Donnie Militzer surely doesn't lack enthusiasm.
After being hired to lead the Cougars in May, Militzer promised he was not planning to have a rebuilding season.
Looking at some of the success he and his team have had this summer, his “win now” attitude has carried over to his players.
“It's been an awesome transition,” Militzer said Friday. “I've enjoyed every single minute of it. We've really built up some excitement and we got more kids out than in recent years. The enthusiasm is really high.”
And why shouldn't it be?
The Cougars had a couple of impressive showings under Militzer's tutelage, beginning with winning the small-school division title of the Washington and Jefferson College Passing Camp tournament.
“We played mostly Class AA size schools from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia,” Militzer said.
Among the teams the Cougars played in the tournament included South Fayette's “B-squad,” Waynesburg Central, Frazier and Weir (W.Va.), Militzer added.
Charleroi played in a 7-on-7 tournament Thursday at Youngstown State and finished with a 5-1 record. Its loss to Ursuline, Ohio, was by a single point and was decided on the last play of the game.
“I've been preaching from day one, we're in ‘win-now' mode,” Militzer said. “The kids have bought into everything we've done and they really want to win.
“I think they trust that as a staff, we are putting them into a good position to succeed.”
Being at Charleroi after one season at Gateway last year, Militzer is happy to have a home.
“It's truly a breath of fresh air,” Militzer said of the environment at Charleroi. “It's a complete 180 from last year. Last season, it was like we were just waiting for a phone call or something else that was going to ruin our day.
“Here, the support has been off the charts. I love being there, I love being with those kids and I can't wait to get there every day.”
Postivity has run rampant throughout the Charleroi locker room, which has brought a new level of excitement for the first-year coach.
“The players have helped make this transition so smooth,” Militzer said. “Kevin McClellan, the strongest kid on the team, was voted an offseason captain. He's been doing a fantastic job of keeping everyone focused.
“And the kids have been my best recruiters. Our participation has been about 30 to 35 kids for summer workouts; that's higher than they've been in the past few years here. We're expecting a roster of about 45 kids.”
Cougar players spoke to some other athletes in the school, which led to meeting with Militzer.
“They lured them in and I had to close the deal,” Militzer said. “I've been real impressed with some of the players we brought in that haven't played last season.”
Included in that bunch are running back and cornerback Brock Shannon, wide receiver Blake Carmello and 6-foot-9 John Arnold, who is expected to see time at tight end, wideout and defensive end.
“John is already getting some looks from college coaches just from these two summer trips. Brock was voted by the team as our most valuable player at the W & J camp,” Militzer said. “He had 10 interceptions and scored 12 touchdowns in nine games. I can't wait to see him run the ball when we put the pads on.”
Another leader on the field will be Matt Carr, who played in only two games last season due to an injury.
“The kid passed for 500 yards in only two games. I think he's really going to flourish in our wide-open system,” Militzer said.
After giving the team the week off, Militzer said he is excited for his first camp to get started. The first official day of camp is Aug. 11.
“The work ethic is there,” Militzer said of his team. “It's a loose atmosphere. The bottom line is that it comes down to the kids. They're working their butts off and they see that they can have success.
“For us not really getting started until the beginning of May, it's really exciting to see what we've had the ability to accomplish. I'm really excited to get this season started.”
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2667.