Connellsville's Knopsnider will split time on both sides of ball this season

| Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, 1:16 a.m.

Dylan Knopsnider knows if the Connellsville football team is to be successful, there has to be a lot of leadership.

In his senior season, Knopsnider is intent on being a leader.

“This year, I understand what I have to do,” Knopsnider said. “I had some good, strong leaders ahead of me, and they showed me what to do.”

Knopsnider will be a three-year starter on defense but will also be making his presence felt as a running back.

“On offense, he will get a significant amount of touches,” Falcons coach Dave McDonald said. “Defensively, we expect a lot. As a strong safety, we expect him to cover, and he has to be an edge presence and be physical.”

Knopsnider will be tasked with a number of responsibilities, which is fine with him.

“It puts pressure on you, but I know I can do it and I'm ready to step up,” Knopsnider said. “I like the pressure and knowing that if I don't do my job, it can be a big play for the other team.”

Knopsnider's faith in his abilities to lead and play well aren't lacking, which is important for a team that will rely on experienced veterans to shine.

“I think he has always had the capabilities, and I think now he is confident,” McDonald said. “He is the biggest and strongest he's ever been. Right now, he's just playing, and that allows his natural abilities to come out. I've always looked at him as being a very good player, and now he is really coming into his own.”

Knopsnider has played baseball and basketball at Connellsville but is focused on his football career. His dedication has shown.

“Dylan has really worked hard this offseason, and it is starting to show with the camp that he had,” McDonald said.

“He has stepped up into a leadership role and taken care of his responsibilities. He is paying attention to detail, and he is executing at a high level on both sides of the ball.”

Knopsnider hopes to parlay a strong senior season into the opportunity to play football in college.

“I want to have a good senior season and have colleges look at me,” Knopsnider said. “I want to get some offers so I can play at the next level.”

As for the team, he is optimistic this can be a good season.

“I believe the team can do well,” Knopsnider said. “We just have to play together, know our roles and do our jobs.”

Knopsnider and the Falcons open the season Friday with a Quad East game at McKeesport.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at

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