Share This Page

Freeport hopes to balance strong run game with passing attack

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 7:32 p.m.
Freeport's Shane McKillop attacks a teammate during football practice at Freeport High School on Tuesday August 14, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Freeport's Josh Brestensky looks to receive during football practice at Freeport High School on Tuesday August 14, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Freeport's Damon Smith snags a catch during football practice at Freeport High School on Tuesday August 14, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

Freeport possesses many ingredients of a playoff team: eight returning regulars on both sides of the ball, Division I-caliber linemen, a prolific running back, and a senior entering his third season as the starting quarterback.

Freeport coach John Gaillot believes this edition of the Yellowjackets can be better than last year's co-Allegheny Conference championship team, and adding zing to the passing game could be the key.

Last season, Freeport (7-3, 6-1) pushed around opponents with a no-nonsense ground attack but didn't move the ball as effectively through the air.

“We definitely need to throw the ball more than twice a game,” Gaillot said. “There were times we did that last year. We have to get it in the air. The receivers have really come on and have been catching very well. It would be huge if we have that. It should open up the running game more, too.”

The passing game revolves around senior quarterback Brendan Lynch, who completed 37 of 67 passes for 598 yards and seven touchdowns in his second year as the starter. Lynch was named to the all-conference second team at quarterback and first team at defensive back. Gaillot hopes to get Lynch more involved as a rusher and passer.

Lynch's targets at wide receiver and tight end will include Josh Brestensky, Tony DeVivo, Travis Hall, Jesse Hubert and Dustin Koedel. None of them had more than five catches last year.

Freeport figures to put together a productive running game again.

Senior Damon Smith earned all-conference first-team recognition at running back after collecting 1,381 yards and 18 touchdowns on 240 carries last year.

The offensive line will feature senior Shane McKillop, a late bloomer who has started to receive Division I interest from Cincinnati; senior guard Brian Welsh, an all-conference second-teamer who's considering attending the Naval Academy; and junior tackle Nathan Rummel, an all-conference first-teamer.

“We're banking on being able to run the ball well,” said Gaillot, who has guided Freeport to the WPIAL playoffs in all four of seasons as coach.

Welsh is a standout on the other side of the ball, too, and was named co-Allegheny Conference Defensive Player of the Year after recording 80 tackles and 10 sacks as a defensive tackle last season.

“He's so quick,” Gaillot said. “He looks faster than last year.”

Senior linebackers Alec Stivers and Josh Wisniewski earned all-conference first-team honors last year.

The speedy Koedel, a cornerback, was a second-teamer at defensive back and kick returner.

Gaillot believes the Allegheny Conference will be much improved this season because several top teams return the majority of their starters and Kittanning and Valley were realigned from Class AAA.

“(The conference title) might come down to who has the least amount of injuries to key kids,” Gaillot said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.