Ford City volleyball has plenty of room to grow
TribLIVE Sports Videos
As Ford City boys volleyball coach Casey Cousins distributed uniforms two weeks ago, he marveled at how many jersey numbers he marked down on his clipboard.
Just days earlier, Cousins counted the number of players at practice on one hand and doubted the team's viability.
A group of slightly more than a dozen eager-to-learn players emerged in mid-March and allowed Ford City to field a full lineup. Now the Sabers, severely lacking in experience, aim to scratch their way into a fourth consecutive playoff berth.
“It was kind of tough trying to get guys to come out,” said senior Doug Purrington, one of the team's three returning players. “Everybody that's here we basically recruited. By ‘we,' I mean me, Jeff (Morhac) and Cameron (Beal) and one or two people we already had.
“I think we can work with this team. It's going to be a fun experience.”
A shaky start came as no surprise to Cousins, who coached Elderton the past two seasons and replaced Gregg Hedglin, who resigned during the offseason. When Cousins learned Ford City had an open coaching position and West Shamokin would absorb Elderton's program last spring, he debated which position to pursue.
West Shamokin represented the more attractive destination, but Cousins viewed that as a reason to consider Ford City, which graduated its entire starting lineup.
“I knew that if I didn't take that (West Shamokin) job, there'd be a good coach out there in (former assistant) Scott Craig,” Cousins said. “I wasn't sure what else would be available here if I didn't take the job. So I thought the best thing we could do was divide our talents and make sure that both programs are looked after.”
Cousins, an eighth-grade history teacher at Ford City, will lean on Purrington as well as sophomores Morhac and Beal for on-floor leadership.
Promising newcomers to the sport include senior David Kutsch and junior Dakota Fickes. But the talent remains raw. Skills such as passing and hitting — things Cousins took for granted at Elderton — are slow to develop.
“I was spoiled because at Elderton most of the kids had played before, and with Andrea (Lasher) being my assistant, she was awesome with that building block kind of stuff where I never really had to do that,” Cousins said. “So I found myself scratching my head (earlier this season) like, ‘I don't even know where to begin.' That's the toughest part. ... We'll get there, though.”
As Purrington pointed out, Ford City finished 3-7 in section play to tie St. Joseph for fourth place, so the Sabers hardly need a dominant run to return to the postseason.
Deer Lakes and Derry, both WPIAL semifinalists last season, remain the cream of the Section 2-AA crop, and West Shamokin is a perennial playoff qualifier.
So the last spot again should come down to Ford City, St. Joseph and Summit Academy.
“We've got a really top- and bottom-heavy section,” Cousins said. “The games that we should be in, I'm hoping we'll be in. And the games that are against those top-tier teams, I'm just hoping to look like a volleyball team and get something out of it.
“Even if we can just get some guys to come watch us and see us having fun, that'll help build the program for future years.”
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.
- LaBar: Best next opponent for Brock Lesnar
- Steelers trade punter Wing to Giants for pick
- Philly DA won’t fire Fina, two others for porn emails
- Custom Choo’s can be yours to choose
- Variations in women’s clothing sizes cause frustration
- Pitt forward Maia sidelined indefinitely with thumb injury
- 45 UAE troops die in Yemen explosion
- Kids and alcohol: Time for the talk?
- Pirates notebook: Burnett continues to progress, amps up to 95-pitch simulated game
- 4-year-old transplant recipient Angelo Giorno dies, hospital says
- With most starters resting, Steelers turn in lackluster loss at Heinz