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Gorman: Carlynton in control of possible playoff berth

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Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Terry George talks to his team about taking advantage of the opportunities before it.

George knows something about this, given that he took the coaching job at Carlynton despite its decade of football failures.

“Even in the ‘80s, we were always very competitive, our records were always respectable,” said George, who started his coaching career at Carlynton in 1981. “When we came back, football wasn't a priority anymore for the student body. We want it to be the centerfold. The way to do that is through winning.”

George had to convince the Cougars, just 29-104 in the previous 16 seasons, that they could win games.

By winning games.

After an 0-2 start, Carlynton has beaten Bishop Canevin, Serra Catholic and Westinghouse. The Cougars are in a fourth-place tie in the Black Hills Conference with their next two opponents, Chartiers-Houston and Brentwood.

“We finally have a shot to make the playoffs, and Carlynton hasn't done that in how many years now?” Carlynton senior quarterback-outside linebacker Freddie McKissick said.

Not since 2001.

“It would be nice to have that accomplishment, especially my senior year,” McKissick said. “We're finally starting to come together as a team, to realize what we're capable of doing. When we play together and on task, we're a tough team to beat.”

When George arrived in 2011, work ethic was a problem. He emphasized practicing hard, the importance of being a total player and improving academics.

“We want kids who love football,” George said. “That's the only way you're going to win.”

Now, five starters have grade-point averages of 3.5 or better, including valedictorian Kevin Schuster. Every starter returned on the offensive line, and star sophomore tailback Isiah Canton has rushed for 577 yards and nine touchdowns.

“He has the opportunity,” George said, “to be great.”

That's all anyone at Carlynton wants, the opportunity to be great.

“Everyone walked around with their heads down all the time,” McKissick said. “Everyone was tired of losing. You can see the difference, how much it means to win, to see the excitement winning brings to the school. It makes you even more pumped and excited about the game, knowing that if you win you have a good shot at the playoffs.”

Now, George just has to convince Carlynton that it can make the playoffs.

By making the playoffs.

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