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Business as usual as GCC opens camp without Colosimo

| Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, 11:56 p.m.
Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic co-head coach Matthew Federico leads Centurions players through afternoon practice on Monday.

Dan Mahoney slowly navigated his way up a slope leading from the Greensburg Central Catholic practice field and greeted a visitor.

“This is the nicest part of the day, getting down there and coaching football,” Mahoney said with a warm smile.

It was a relaxed and quiet atmosphere on the first day of training camp at GCC, which begins its first season in a long while without legendary coach Muzzy Colosimo, who was removed on Aug. 6 after twice being suspended by the school and replaced by two of his assistants, Mahoney — also the school's athletics director — and Matt Federico.

Colosimo's absence was felt by coaches and players alike, but the season will go on just the same, Mahoney said.

“For me, there's a void to fill,” he said, “but we're going to remain positive. We met with the kids and told them that we're moving ahead. This is a tough thing, especially for 16- and 17-year-olds, but these young men have reacted well.

“They know the routine and we want them to focus on it. They did a good job of it on the first day.”

While Mahoney had spent 17 seasons as an assistant to Colosimo, GCC's players have had much less time to get to know the coaching staff.

Senior captain Zach Guiser said the team is united and expects to continue success that has had the program playing for a PIAA Class AA championship as recently as 2009.

“It's business as usual. We miss his presence, but there's really nothing different,” said Guiser, a running back/safety who is committed to Akron for next year.

Mahoney said GCC's season could hinge on the play of its defense, but that could just be the coach focusing on his area of expertise. Mahoney is a defensive-minded mentor, with Federico handling the team's offense.

GCC enters the season with a revamped coaching staff and more than a few openings in its lineup after the Centurions were hit hard by player transfers after a 10-2 record and a trip to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals in 2011.

Among the defections is leading rusher Jordan McCrea, who gained 1,218 yards and scored 17 touchdowns last season.

He is returning to Connellsville, his home school district.

Guiser is back, though, after gaining 599 yards on just 60 carries (10.0 average) a year ago. But it wasn't until recently that he was back to what he feels is 100 percent health after dealing with hamstring injuries in both legs.

“I strained it during the WPIAL track qualifers in the 100 (in May at Mars),” he said, “and then, after I tried to run on it during conditioning in the summer, I overcompensated and hurt the other one.”

GCC will open its schedule Aug. 31 against Washington.

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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