Plum hoping to get back on track Friday at Baldwin
Late in the evening on Friday and early in the morning on Saturday, the strategy sessions began in preparation for this week's conference road contest at Baldwin.
Plum head football coach Frank Sacco said it was important to not only have the players learn from the rough spots in their season-opening 55-14 loss to Bethel Park but to not let it affect them in their preparation for the Highlanders.
Sacco said the players got that message.
“They watched the (Beth- el Park) film, and they saw the corrections they can make,” Sacco said.
“They are staying posi- tive. They are looking forward to the challenge. Every week, they know it will be a challenge in a conference as tough as this.”
In the opener, the Mustangs struggled on special teams, as they gave up two punt returns for touchdowns, had a third punt blocked and returned for a score and had a kickoff returned for a touchdown.
“Obviously, the score reflects how we played,” Sacco said. “We made too many mistakes on special teams. If we don't get that cleared up, we could be in trouble. We've been making progress offensively, but if eight or nine are doing what you want them to do and two aren't, that can keep a drive from being successful. We have to have 11 working as one.”
Sophomores Joe DeFelice and Nathan Turchick tallied the touchdowns for the Mustangs. Turchick scored on a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter, while DeFelice added a 77-yard scamper down the visiting sideline.
“Joey battled an injury all through camp, and it's good to see him get in the action,” Sacco said. “Hopefully, he can be part of things to come.”
Sacco also said fellow sophomore Zach Martin ran well when his number was called.
“We did some good things defensively,” Sacco said. “We flew to the ball and were aggressive. (Senior) Jai Major and (junior) Zach Kuhn played the ball well on their interceptions, and sophomores Anthony Rende, Nate Turchick and Zach Martin played well.”
Plum will make its first road trip through Friday rush hour traffic and two tunnels to get to Baldwin in the South Hills.
“We don't want to make too much of that,” Sacco said. “It is what it is. Hopefully, the kids will get the rest they need and be ready to play football. Baldwin is a good football team. They were in the game with Peters Township.”
Baldwin also will be looking for its first conference victory this week after it fell to Peters Township, 40-12, last Friday.
The Highlanders feature running back Dorian Brown, who finished with 1,292 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns last year.
Brown is being recruited by schools such as Navy, Youngstown State, Akron, Toledo, Temple, Duquesne and Robert Morris.
“Every film we saw of Baldwin, (Brown) breaks off a big run,” Sacco said.
“They try to give him the ball in space. We have to contain him. We can't give him too much.”
Sacco said the Baldwin offense is not just Brown.
“They use two quarterbacks, and they have nice wide receivers and some size on the offensive line,” he said.
Highlanders right tackle Sterling Jenkins stands 6-foot-8 and weighs close to 300 pounds.
Defensively, Baldwin runs a 3-5 set and will move into a 4-4 formation.
“We have to adjust to it with our blocking scheme,” Sacco said. “We have to be sound up front.”
Sacco hopes the running game can get on track against a Baldwin defense that gave up 247 yards and four touchdowns to Peters Township's Mike Minjock.
Kickoff on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.