Plum features young, but experienced, lineup
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Last season was a struggle for the Plum football team.
The Mustangs — faced with numerous injuries to key players and stiff competition in and out of Quad East play — finished 1-8 overall and 0-6 in conference play.
But coach Frank Sacco said this year's team, which features 25 players who earned a varsity letter in 2011, has the right attitude to start turning things around.
“I was pleased with our offseason work,” Sacco said. “You sometimes don't know how the kids are going to respond after a season like we had. But they are really dedicated to this season.”
Sacco said the lineup on both sides of the ball will be experienced but still young, as several sophomores and freshmen got playing time last season.
“They key for us again this year is staying healthy,” Sacco said.
Senior Jake DiGuilio is Plum's lone returning all-conference player from a year ago, as he earned a second-team nod at linebacker.
DiGuilio, who shed about 15 pounds in the offseason and enters his third year as a starter, led the Mustangs in tackles last year with 53. Seven of the tackles were for a loss.
On offense, he combined his blocking and ball-carrying talents.
DiGuilio, who Sacco said is getting some looks from Division III schools, collected 140 yards on 56 carries and scored four of Plum's five rushing touchdowns. He added 15 receptions for 131 yards and a score.
“Jake's probably more in the role of a leader this year than ever,” Sacco said. “He's a little quicker this year, but he's not lost any strength. He's one of the strongest kids on the team.”
A pair of quarterbacks have been in the running throughout preseason camp to replace three-year starter and 1,000-yard thrower Christopher Zdinak, who graduated.
Senior Corey DeLoach, who played tight end last year and also got a little bit of varsity work at quarterback, and sophomore Will Fuhrer are the quarterback candidates.
“There are different positive attributes for both of them,” Sacco said. “Corey has a little bit more experience in the offense. Will will be a really good one down the line.”
Seniors Matt Dombroski (defensive end) and Nick DeLuca (defensive back), junior Jeff Ruffing (outside linebacker) and sophomore Nathan Turchick (defensive end) join DiGuilio as the 2011 leading tacklers among the returning letterwinners.
Sacco said the running back position — with Ruffing and sophomore Kyle Smecker back and fellow sophomore Joe DeFelice in the mix — can be a strength of the offense, as well as an experienced offensive line.
“The concern for us on the (offensive) line always is depth,” Sacco said. “If they stay healthy, they have a chance to be pretty good.”
Conference realignment shook things up in Quad-A, and Plum will face new conference foes Bethel Park, Baldwin, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, Canon-McMillan and Peters Township while again matching up with Woodland Hills and Penn Hills.
This year's schedule includes trips through potentially heavy Friday evening traffic and construction areas on 376 to Baldwin, Mt. Lebanon, Canon-McMillan and Upper St. Clair.
“There's not a lot we can do about it,” Sacco said.
“Traveling will be difficult, not only for us, but for the band, the cheerleaders and the fans. But all the teams in the conference are in the same situation, so we have to make the best of it.”
Sacco knows what his team is up against this season.
“There are no slouches in this conference,” Sacco said. “It's going to be a grinder.”
Show commenting policy
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.
- Rossi: Steelers will make small strides this season
- Not to be left behind, speedy Steelers are on the fast track in NFL
- McKeesport Area teacher fired amid sex scandal returns to school
- 2 held for arraignments in gun case
- Committee to advise Munhall on vacant properties
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’
- East Allegheny teachers maintain strike plans
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- Feds to protect 20 coral species
- WPIAL coaches, QBs have concerns about using newly-approved footballs
- Monroeville firefighters hope hot photo calendar will help raise money