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Knoch's Tackett needs to play big this season

| Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Knoch running back Ben Tackett takes a pitchout during practice at Knoch High School in Jefferson Township on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch

Last football season, Ben Tackett often looked like he was walking a tight rope when he hauled in passes for Knoch, making even the most troublesome catches look easy.

This year, he's answering questions on his tip-toes.

What's your height and weight, Ben?

“Well, in spikes, I'm 5-foot-10 and I'd like to think I weigh about 175,” said Tackett, a senior. “I need platform shoes.”

He's actually about 5-9, 165.

“I was a quarterback when I was little, but I had to move because I couldn't see over the line,” he said. “Fingers crossed, I'm not done growing.”

Forget what the roster says: Tackett plays big.

“When you have a football player like him, you have to get him the ball,” Knoch coach Mike King said. “You have to be dynamic in the way you use him.”

That said, Tackett could see less time at wideout and more in the Knights' backfield this season as the team encores a memorable 12-1, WPIAL runner-up campaign.

Despite a team-leading 25 receptions for 410 yards and five touchdowns last season, Tackett likely will see more time at running back.

End-arounds and pitchouts probably won't be foreign to him, either, in Knoch's modified spread offense.

“Maybe tailback, maybe wildcat QB, maybe wide receiver,” King said. “The kid is such a competitor. He wants to do it all. He's the kind of kid in the huddle who just says, ‘I got this one.' I tell him, look, I have been coaching longer than you've been playing. That's a good problem to have, though. He loves to play the game.”

Tackett wasn't ready to share his exact role, or reveal details from the Knights' playbook, this early in the season.

“It's week-to-week and depends on who we play and certain formations,” Tackett said. “Coach King is a clever man. We trust him in whatever he wants to do.”

Tackett said the team bonded during last year's run to the Class AAA title game, which Knoch lost, 42-14, to Montour.

“We became extremely close; it's going to hurt not being able to play with some of the same guys,” he said.

“The biggest thing we gained is experience. We know what it takes. There's a price you have to pay to get there.”

Tackett has good reflexes on both sides of the ball, perhaps due to his lacrosse skills. He is a standout midfielder and 50-plus goal-scorer for Knoch's club team.

“We have a nice mix on the team,” he said. “We have football players, soccer players, band members and cross country kids.”

Tackett said he may try to play lacrosse in college.

“I am keeping my options open,” he said. “Not closing any doors.”

Tackett also will see a change on defense as he moves from cornerback to free safety.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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