Chartiers Valley looks to build on last season's breakthrough
Chartiers Valley qualified for the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2011 last season.
But the Colts are far from satisfied.
“We are feeding off what we did last season,” senior Dominic Pocci said. “With all the experience, we have back and the work we have put in, we think we can do even better this season.”
Junior Reed Bruggeman will take over at quarterback. He has many of the same tools that last season's starter, Jake Collins, used to find success.
“Reed can run and throw,” coach Niel Loebig said. “But he is a different kind of runner than Jake, who could just take off. Reed is more of a hard-nosed runner.”
The team lost its top three receivers to graduation but will look for production from senior Reilly O'Neill, as well as juniors Dylan Ablak and Anthony Doyle.
“Connor Barrett played a bit of everything last year as a freshman,” Loebig said. “He played slot and running back. He is going to be a dual-threat receiver for us.”
The running game should be a strength for the Colts. Junior Steve Alauzen returns after running for more than 800 yards with five touchdowns. Pocci gives the team a power-run option — he gained more than 20 pounds in the offseason.
“The running game will be a big part of the offense,” Pocci said. “With my size, I am more of a lead blocker. (Alauzen) did a wonderful job last season. We should be able to put points on the scoreboard.”
The offensive line could be one of CV's best in years. The Colts return multi-year starters in seniors John Sexauer (6-foot-2, 285 pound), Nathan Keifner (6-2, 270), Logan Ford (6-1, 250) and Daniel McGeough (6-6, 225).
“From there, we have five or six guys competing for playing time,” Loebig said. “Those seniors bring size and strength.”
The defensive line also should be a strength — Ford has been a starter at tackle since his sophomore season. Senior Dante Panucci should be a force at defensive end. The linebacker corps will be boosted by the return of senior Anthony Onomastico and Pocci.
“We should do pretty well,” Onomastico said. “(Barrett) is a sophomore who could have an impact at linebacker.”
The secondary returns senior safety C.J. Saluga.
Although Chartiers Valley will be tested in the debut season of Class 5A, Loebig said his squad will be up for a challenge after playing in the Parkway Conference.
“From top to bottom, there were no gimme games,” he said. “And there won't be this year, either.”