Belle Vernon hoping for a 'healthy season'
Maintaining a healthy roster is high on Belle Vernon coach Aaron Krepps' list of priorities.
The Leopards finished 4-6 last season with a 4-3 mark in Big Eight Conference play. They qualified for the playoffs but were beaten by Franklin Regional, 28-14, in the first round.
“We were hit hard with the injuries last year,” Krepps said. “Hopefully, this year we stay healthy. Healthy and lucky; I'll take a little bit of luck, too.”
The Leopards face a challenge in replacing multi-talented Ian Dobbins, who excelled at running back, receiver and quarterback last season.
Defensively, the Leopards will miss the leadership of departed linebacker Adam Cole.
“When you lose an Adam Cole, you lose the heart of that defense,” Krepps said. “But we have some guys back that saw a lot of time on the field last year, so they're going to have to step up. Our defense is still going to be the foundation of our team.”
Krepps is high on senior linebacker Cory Urlacher.
“Cory had a big year last year, and I am expecting him to step into that leadership role left by Cole,” Krepps said. “With Urlacher and Aaron McCullough returning, I don't think our linebackers should miss a beat.”
Krepps said he has little concern about the quality of his defensive line and secondary.
“Overall, expectations are as high as they are every other year,” he said. “We feel we're going to be really strong.”
Offensively, all five starters return on an offensive line that includes Division I prospect Dorian Johnson.
Johnson had committed to Penn State but decommitted following sanctions levied on the program.
Collin Woss also will play a leading role on the lines at the tackle positions.
Sophomore quarterback Travis Snyder, who had a promising beginning as a freshman starter, will look to rebound after his season was cut short by injuries.