Penn-Trafford striving for successful encore
The last time Penn-Trafford won a conference football title, the next season ended with a 4-5 record and the Warriors missing the playoffs.
While this year's Penn-Trafford team is young, there are plenty of signs indicating that sort of drop-off won't happen again.
As the defending champions of the Quad South Conference — now renamed and slightly realigned as the Quad East — the Warriors are a team lacking in varsity experience, but that isn't diminishing expectations for a program that has been to the top.
“We're happy to be back out on the field, especially after last year,” senior lineman Eric Swope said. “Everybody is fired up and ready for the season after eight months of working hard to get ready and get the pads on.”
Penn-Trafford returns just four players who started last year — linebackers Brian McDonough and Zach Diable, wide receiver Dorian Stevens and defensive back Dom Cima — all of whom are seniors this season.
Along with seniors such as Swope, who steps into a starting position on the line this year, the Warriors' elder statesmen are trying their best to help P-T's younger players prepare to contribute at the varsity level.
“The young guys are coming along great,” Stevens said. “It seems like there's about 10 times more juniors than seniors this year, but we're looking good so far.”
“There's a lot of guys stepping into key positions,” Warriors coach John Ruane said. “I will say this: Defensively, I'm pleased with where we are. Every practice, we've been physical, and in the scrimmage against Plum, there were guys flying to the ball and a lot of sure tackling.”
The defensive side of the ball is where most of P-T's experience is concentrated, and it's that side of the ball that the Warriors hope will shine this season, especially as an offense replacing its entire backfield and offensive line finds its footing.
“Our defense is definitely the heart and soul of the team, and it's going to be really important this year,” Stevens said. “We're going to need the defense to win some games because we lost a lot of offensive weapons.”
Between the strength of the defense and having all-state kicker Matt Loughnane back, Penn-Trafford will try to seize an edge in field position most games. Short fields to drive would be a big help to the offense, which will be putting the ball in the hands of many different players.
Ruane and his staff have offensive sets installed to use both senior Matt Arzenti and Stevens at quarterback, while the running back position will feature junior Tom Stinelli, senior Shawn Knox and sophomore Devin Austin at different times. McDonough will be the starter at the H-back position for P-T, but a broken finger in the preseason has limited his action while allowing some younger players to work with the first team at that spot, too.
“Brian will be our starter for sure, but maybe it's a blessing in disguise that we got some more guys playing time, as well,” Ruane said. “Matt Arzenti and Dorian Stevens have both been playing quarterback with the first team, and they both bring something different to the table, so we'll end up utilizing both of those guys, as well.”
The Warriors got as good a test they could have hoped for to end the preseason on Friday, as they hosted the two-time defending WPIAL champs and a team ranked in multiple national top-100s, North Allegheny.
“We're getting everyone to pick up the tempo and pick up the physicality,” Swope said. “We're getting everybody playing as one and flying to the football.”
That scrimmage set the stage for the Warriors' first contest, which comes against North Allegheny's biggest rival, North Hills.
A perennial power, North Hills is coming off an uncharacteristic losing year and hopes to rebound this season, which begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Indians' Martorelli Stadium in West View.
The Warriors, on the other hand, hope to mirror their season of a year ago, when big nonconference victories over Peters Township and Mt. Lebanon propelled the team into conference play.
“It helps to start against a good team like North Hills because it gets everyone fired up for the season,” Swope said.
“Definitely, beating them would get the season going for us and have everyone fired up coming off of a win. It's a very important game for us, even if it's not against a conference team.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Pirates expect high prices in trade market
- Steelers hope new faces breathe life into team
- Tuesday’s scouting report: Pirates at Giants
- Westmoreland women stole thousands to finance dog show appearances
- Latrobe man who admitted role in fatal crash allowed to continue driving
- Inside the ropes: Shazier shows off speed
- Belle Vernon woman named Mrs. Pennsylvania; targets child bullies
- Approval for Wal-Mart closer in McCandless
- Rutgers football coach says Scarlet Knights, Big Ten is ‘a tremendous marriage’
- Steelers notebook: Team hasn’t called on Keisel, Harrison yet
- 1 intruder killed, other shot and wounded in Carrick home invasion