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Southmoreland hoping off-season preparation pays off on the field

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 8:16 p.m.
Tribune-Review
Southmoreland quarterback Dakota Datz passes at practice. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Southmoreland's Tyler Ramsey photographed during practice at Russ Grimm Field in Alverton on Wednesday, August 15, 2012. Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier

Southmoreland second-year coach Dominic Pecora is hoping that a full offseason will fine-tune his team's offense and improve the defense as the Scotties prepare for the 2012 campaign.

“Unlike what many people think, the offseason starts in November,” Pecora said. “This is my first full offseason with them, and it's like night and day compared to last year. These kids know no other way than to show up every day and work.”

Offensively, the Scotties lost top receivers Asa Costelnock and Conner McKlveen to graduation.

“We don't have replacements for Asa and Conner,” Pecora said.

Fortunately for the Scotties, they have the luxury of having returning quarterback Dakota “Bo” Datz, who led the team in rushing and passing in 2011.

“He broke the school record in passing in Week 6 last year,” Pecora said. “That's my horse. That's my man on the field.”

For Datz, putting up great numbers isn't his primary objective.

“I'd rather have no stats, as long as we win,” Datz said. “It's my senior year and I'd like to make the playoffs. We're stronger now and everything is fitting together.”

Everything will have to fit together perfectly for the Scotties to be a top competitor in what promises to be a tough Class AA Interstate Conference that includes traditional frontrunners Jeannette, Greensburg Central Catholic and Mt. Pleasant, as well as newcomer Washington.

“Last year, our conference was good,” Pecora said. “But this year, it's the best in Class AA, and I don't think anybody would debate that.”

After scoring 275 points last year, the Scotties likely will rely on their offense. In addition to Datz, Pecora expects Tyler Ramsey, Jake Pisula and Kyle Cohen to share time at running back. Kevin Bundridge should be a top receiver. Josh Thomas and Jake McNeice stabilize the offensive line.

Defensively, the Scotties gave up an average of 36 points per game last season.

“We were a playoff-caliber team on offense,” Pecora said. “But defensively, there were times it was embarrassing. I hope this year, we have kids that want to tackle.”

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