Coaching continuity helping Yough take next step in conference
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Mark Crovak spent his first two seasons at Yough trying to bring continuity to a school that experienced a pair of coaching upheavals in the two years prior to his taking over the program.
It hasn't been easy. He lost his first 11 games on the Cougars sideline and is just 2-16 in his first two years. But that doesn't mean things aren't heading in the right direction.
“The kids are buying in,” Crovak said. “We have more kids now, they're consistently coming around and I think a lot of that has to do with having some stability in the coaching staff. This is the third year we've been here, they haven't had that at Yough for a little bit and I think that has to do with the kids being a lot more mature. Things are looking up for us a little bit.”
One of the challenges has been finding a way to grade the team's improvement in more ways than just wins and losses. Since Yough plays in the Interstate Conference, which has had at least one representative in the WPIAL Class AA championship game in five of the last seven seasons with three titles, cracking the surface and moving up among the elite teams will take a bit more time.
“We run our system, and we're just trying to get better at it,” Crovak said. “In years past, there were days that we had more coaches than kids in the weight room and now we have something like 40 kids there every day. We haven't changed anything, but hopefully we're just a little better at it than we have been in the past.”
What will help Yough is having almost its entire backfield returning intact. Junior quarterback Tyler Donahue is coming off a solid season in which he threw for 1,156 yards and rushed for another 181 and a score. Senior running back Christian Williams eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau and picked up seven touchdowns.
One of the problems Yough will have is replacing receiver Ben Sweeney, who was Donahue's go-to target throughout 2011. Sweeney caught all 11 of Donahue's touchdown passes last season, and he will have to be replaced by the senior tandem of Mike Reuss and Ben D'Amico. But Donahue should have enough experience to bring them along quickly and impact the passing attack.
What also helped was going to several 7-on-7 camps, including one Yough hosted, to help bolster the team's offensive flow.
“Tyler is growing mentally as well as physically, and it's an exciting time for us because we're lucky to not only have these guys, but to have them with experience,” Crovak said. “We don't try to win 7-on-7s, but we use them to help us as we head into the season and it's nice to see things pay off.”
Still, the key for Yough is to improve so that it can get into position to perhaps chase its first postseason berth since 2008. That became more difficult after the biennial realignment when the WPIAL added perennial playoff contender Washington into the conference mix, but the Cougars aren't dissuaded from continuing their improvement.
“It's going to be tougher this year than it has been, and the WPIAL did us no favors,” Crovak said. “But our last game this year is against Southmoreland and we want that game to mean something, either for a playoff spot or seeding in the playoffs.”
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.
- Waivers granted for Garden Theater block development
- Pirates say goodbye to veteran leaders Burnett, Ramirez
- Steelers notebook: Starting DEs not leaving the field
- State woos Kennametal with $1M in incentives to stay in Pa.
- Review: In Edwidge Danticat’s lyrical ‘Untwine,’ a teen rebuilds her life
- South Fayette extends winning streak in dominating fashion vs. Steel Valley
- Serra Catholic soars to victory over Riverview on game-ending kick
- Safety of credit cards up to banks
- Opposing TEs Miller, Gates took differing paths to greatness
- Cole working to become Penguins’ next Martin on defense
- Review: ‘The Killing Lessons’ is compelling thriller from Saul Black