Charleroi coach says 'the sky is the limit' for Cougars
Much like his predecessor, Ed Jenkins, new Charleroi football coach Don Militzer is a high-energy, high-optimism kind of guy.
Unlike Jenkins, Militzer hopes to have more success with the Cougars' grid program.
“The playoffs are our goal,” Militzer said. “That's always the goal and if we continue to get better and do what we are supposed to do, we can do that.”
Charleroi managed just four total wins in Jenkins' two campaigns, and Militzer knows that kind of mentality has to change.
“When you only win four games in two years, it takes a lot to change the attitude that was here. You have to have that confidence,” he said. “As a staff and a team, we have worked hard on that. I won't sugar coat things and I know we can always get better. But so far, I'm happy where we are headed.”
Militzer took over a program that has not had a winning season since going 6-4 in 2009. However, he did not inherit an empty cupboard at Charleroi, as he has 10 players returning who started for the Cougars a year ago.
He also has several players who will start that did not even play on the team in 2013.
Militzer sees the latter fact as a huge positive.
“It's good because they are all quality kids,” he said. “Kids like (Brock) Shannon, (Blake) Carmello, (John) Arnold and (Rashaad) Hairston are difference makers. They are talented kids.”
Among his returning starters, Militzer can't hide his glee to have quarterback Matt Carr.
Carr, a senior, is an extension of his head coach on the field, Militzer said.
“He's experienced, smart and understands what I want to do,” Militzer said. “I think he's a winner.”
Joining Carr in Charleroi's starting offense will be Shannon, a junior, in the backfield, and senior Greg Arnold, who will be an all-purpose back and line up in the backfield or out wide in Charleroi's spread formation.
The receivers will come from the group of Carmello, a senior, and juniors Jesse McQuillis and Trey Douyon.
John Arnold, a 6-9, 255-pound junior, will play tight end, and Militzer is very high on him.
The tackles will be seniors Jake Lemmon and Mason Thomas, while seniors Chad Waggoner and Kevin McClelland are the guards and either junior A.J. DiPiazza or senior Brian Gunniers will play center.
“Our team strength is our offense because of the balance we have,” Militzer said. “We have a quarterback who can throw the ball and we have kids who can catch it and we can run it. We have some dynamic kids on offense.
“Our offensive line has some experience and kids who have started multiple years.”
Defense may be another story for the Cougars.
A unit that gave up more than 44 points per game a year ago, “has to be more aggressive and tackle better,” Militzer said.
In Charleroi's base 4-3 defense, Thomas and John Arnold will be the ends with McClelland and Waggoner the tackles.
The linebacking corps will come from the group of sophomore Errict Tedrow, Lemmon, junior Jimmy Smith and senior Keenan Griffith.
Shannon and Carmello will play the corners with Douyon also seeing action there, while Hairston and Greg Arnold will be the safeties.
The Cougars also return another key player in kicker/punter Sean Cole, a sophomore.
Looking at the Interstate Conference, Militzer sees some tough sledding for his team, but he believes the Cougars can compete.
“Washington, obviously, is the team to beat,” Militzer said. “And Mt. Pleasant has been there and done that. Southmoreland, Waynesburg and McGuffey all have a bunch of experienced players coming back.”
Militzer said his team can battle with anybody in the conference.
‘If we stay healthy and stick to what we want to do, we can do that,” he said of winning. “If we keep working and continue to grow, the sky is the limit. I really believe that.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.