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Valley News Dispatch notebook: Local players part of football prospects list

| Monday, June 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jan Pakler | Trib Total Media
Fox Chapel QB Brandon Mitchell warms up his arm on the sideline before a game last season.

Several local players are on the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association/Big 33 Classic Top 112 college prospects list for the upcoming season.

Fox Chapel has three spots occupied, including one by linebacker Quintin Wirginis (6-foot-2, 225), who verbally committed to Pitt last week.

Wirginis also had offers from Temple, Virginia Military Institute and Robert Morris.

The others from Fox Chapel on the list are running back Nigel Garnett and multi-purpose player Chad Garnett, who is listed as an athlete.

Also listed among the state's players to watch are Highlands linebacker Allan Cratsenberg (6-3, 225), Freeport lineman Nathan Rummel (6-3, 280) and Central Catholic quarterback J.J. Cosentino (6-5, 230), a Vandergrift native who has verbally committed to Florida State.

Cratsenberg is receiving Division I attention.

The PSFCA plans to put a list of top returning senior players each summer. The list also will help the Big 33 committe make its all-star picks.

“No one knows better the caliber of talent associated with this current class of juniors — soon to be seniors — than the coaches who work with these kids day-to-day,” said PSFCA outgoing president Mark Evans, head football coach at Manheim Township High School, “which is why we felt strongly about endorsing this compilation,”

Changing the culture?

Fox Chapel is far from a WPIAL football powerhouse, but the program could be returning to the conversation this season thanks to a talented incoming senior class.

Wirginis' commitment to Pitt could spark three more Division I commitments from Fox Chapel players.

The Foxes also return senior quarterback Brandon Mitchell, who has an offer from Fordham. The Garnett brothers also are getting Division I attention.

Coach Eric Ravotti wants to keep the recruiting exploits low-key, as the team builds for its upcoming training camp and season.

“We're as under-the-radar as you can get,” Ravotti said. “(College) offers should be between the players and the teams. Our kids don't put all of that out in the open. I have seen colleges use that to their advantage.”

Ravotti said recruiting is an important staple in the Foxes' program.

“I consider this senior class my first main senior class since I have been here,” Ravotti said. “I have told them that if they worked hard they could attract some attention. There was some resistance, but I think they're buying into it now.

“I'd rather have a losing season and get two or three kids college scholarships. If that happens, I still feel I have done my job.”

Fox Chapel had 29 players at one point, but Ravotti said more than 60 are signed up.

“You can't have Class A numbers and compete in a Quad-A North division,” he said.

Wirginis said the current seniors plan to leave a mark on a program desperate for improvement.

“We always have great athletes, but we're never able to put a good team together,” Wirginis said. “This class has been together since our freshmen year. We think we can change that.”

The incoming seniors won a Guyasuta youth championship in their last season together, defeating Woodland Hills in the finals.

“I committed early so now I can focus on Fox Chapel,” Wirginis said. “We're all focused and all in it together.”

The Foxes went 1-8 last season.

Recruiting

Three local football players, all recent graduates, will continue their playing careers at Westminster College.

They are Deer Lakes quarterback John Nogan, Freeport defensive back Dustin Koedel and wide receiver Dan Swank of The Kiski School.

Swank is from Apollo.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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