Thomas Jefferson confidence soaring for a return to glory days of yesteryear
By Ray Fisher
Published: Friday, September 7, 2012, 11:55 a.m.
Updated: Monday, January 21, 2013
Granted, it was the opening week of the 2012 high school football season.
Enthusiam runs high, as do the expectations of players and teams.
It's sometimes easy to get caught up in the aftereffects of an emotionally charged-up and sensational overall performance in the first game of a season.
And I'm sure head coach Bill Cherpak wouldn't go so far as labeling it a “sensational” game for his Thomas Jefferson football squad.
Especially following Demetrius Louis's 42-yard touchdown jaunt for Ringgold with 8.5 seconds remaining in the first half.
But if the Jaguars are seeking a return to the glory and hype of their recent championship years, their stirring 41-14 conference victory against Ringgold last week was a great start down that path.
“Our expectations are high — conference title, WPIALs, and then states,” said Zach Schademan, a senior wide receiver who led the team in receptions last season. “The last couple of years, we'd say those were down seasons around here. We're trying to get it back up to the 2004 level.”
Joe Carroll, TJ's first-year starting quarterback, chimed in.
“We want to win the conference, the WPIAL and states,” he said. “We have good skill players.”
Carroll's electrifying performance in his starting debut at quarterback is a big reason why TJ appears to be an early WPIAL title contender in Class AAA, along with the likes of Central Valley, Montour, West Allegheny and Mars.
Carroll tied a school record for touchdown passes in one game against Ringgold, hitting on 11 of 15 attempts for 192 yards and five touchdowns.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound signal caller tied the record held by former TJ quarterback Tyler Wehner, who tossed five touchdown passes versust West York in the PIAA playoffs in 2008.
Thomas Jefferson, ranked No. 4 in Class AAA in the Tribune-Review preseason poll, climbed to No. 3 with its impressive season-opening win.
As Schademan and Carroll noted, the Jaguars' long-standing team goals consists of a trifecta of championships — conference, WPIAL and PIAA titles.
“That is never going to be different,” Cherpak said. “We are inexperienced in terms of (returning) starters, but all of them have played before this year.”
Another reason to like the Jaguars' chances in Class AAA this season?
A talented, adept receiving corps.
Five players saw playing time at the wide receiver position in the first half of last week's game — seniors Jake Mascaro, Colton Booher, Shane Lotis and Schademan, along with junior Dalton Dietrich.
The 6-3, 175-pound Mascaro tied a school record last week with three touchdown receptions.
Tom McCafferty and Jim Giansante also had three touchdown receptions for the Jaguars in one game during the 2003 and 2008 seasons, respectively.
Meanwhile, Schademan, the Jaguars' leading receiver last year, finished with five catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns versus the shell-shocked Rams.
Schademan, a 5-11, 170-pound wide receiver/defensive back, was a first-team all-conference selection on both offense and defense in 2011.
He shattered a team receiving record last year with 14 catches for 183 yards against Knoch in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs, and ended up with 49 receptions for 807 yards and eight TDs.
While a potent aerial game may take TJ to lofty heights this year, a strong running attack also is essential for any team with championship aspirations.
“I think we'll be balanced on offense, running and throwing the ball,” Cherpak said. “I think we do have some size (on the lines).”
Along with Carroll, new faces in the starting offensive backfield include Byron Minous, a 5-11, 180-pound junior running back, and Luke Deanavich, a 5-19, 180-pound junior fullback
Minous, a sprinter in the TJ track program, rushed for 97 yards and one touchdown against Ringgold.
He was able to find running room behind the blocking prowess of a young but strong, athletic, offensive line.
Pat Hall, a 6-foot, 230-pound senior center and returning all-conference player, anchors the Jaguars' offensive line as a third-year starter.
He is joined up front by four juniors in Cole Costy (6-2, 260), Garrett Pahanish (5-10, 230), Austin Boyd (5-10, 220) and Matt Nagy (6-2, 235), and Derek Toboz, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior tight end.
TJ is a member of the Class AAA Big Nine Conference, along with Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Trinity, Uniontown and West Mifflin.
Judging from the results of Week 1 from around the conference, Carroll & Co. may prove to be unstoppable.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kovacevic: Matt Cooke 1, Ottawa Senators 0
- Penguins rout Senators, return to Eastern Conference final
- Alfredsson ponders his future
- Letang dazzles with dynamic play in Game 5 win
- Pirates notebook: Bucs shut down injured Karstens
- Penguins notebook: Tickets for Eastern Conference final on sale today
- Marine restores pride of Memorial Day parade on streets of Lawrenceville
- 16-year-old girl shot and killed on Rankin street
- Pirates waste strong Burnett start, fall again to Brewers at Miller Park
- Steelers hope new blocking scheme kick-starts running game
- Penguins’ fans as young as five months brave cold to watch Game 5
You must be signed in to add comments
To comment, click the Sign in or sign up at the very top of this page.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.