Youthful Norwin faces tough road in Quad East
Norwin football coach Art Tragesser couldn't be blamed if he begged for a more experienced team.
Having Gateway and McKeesport Area in his team's unforgiving Quad East conference probably isn't desirable, either.
But the veteran coach isn't complaining. Instead, Tragesser and the Knights will ignore their underdog status and march forward toward Friday night's opener in Altoona.
“I'm happy right now with what I'm seeing,” Tragesser said. “I think we have the potential to get better and better every day, and that's a good thing. Honestly, my only goal is to get these guys to go out and compete every game, and I think that's what we're going to do.”
Make no mistake, Norwin is facing an uphill climb.
The Knights are facing a daunting conference schedule against two Class AAAA heavyweights.
“We know Gateway is going to be the best team in the conference, by far,” Tragesser said. “And we know McKeesport is going to be really good. And Penn-Trafford has a really good team.”
Tragesser, however, isn't fearful of dealing with elite Class AAAA teams. Rather, he believes such challenges can make his program better.
“The fact of the matter is,” he said, “no matter what conference you're dealing with in Class AAAA, you're dealing with a lot of good football teams. Look all around Class AAAA. Good teams, good programs everywhere. It's just something that we know we have to deal with, and it is something we're going to deal with.”
Tragesser is an old-school coach who believes in simple football fundamentals. But he does plan on instituting a slightly unusual approach with his most important position.
No quarterback has established himself as the starter, which means Tragesser is going to use three.
A silly idea? Not according to the coach.
“This isn't the NFL,” Tragesser said. “In the pros, yeah, you obviously want to go with one guy. But this is high school football, and at this level, you can use more than one quarterback and that's what we're going to do. We've seen some good things from all of them, and we'll see how it goes.”
No matter who plays, he'll be young. Two of the quarterbacks — Sean Bowen and John Driggers — are sophomores.
The other, Nick Amendola, is a freshman.
Going into a season with such youth under center isn't necessarily ideal, but Tragesser has a quiet confidence about the trio.
“The sky is the limit,” he said. “They all have a chance to be really good.”
Given his team's youth, Tragesser did confess to having one regret about the upcoming season.
“I wish the first game wasn't a conference game,” he said. “It would be nice to get some players some work in that first game, if it were an exhibition game.”
But Norwin won't get anything easily this season. Tragesser doesn't mind.
“We're really working hard out there,” he said. “I'm not going to make any predictions or anything like that. All I'm going to say is that we want to compete hard every game. That's the goal. We're going to do our best.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.