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Football

Young Uniontown football team hopes to grow

| Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, 4:57 p.m.
Uniontown running back Ariene Washington runs through a drill at Bill Power Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Uniontown.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Uniontown running back Ariene Washington runs through a drill at Bill Power Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Uniontown.
Uniontown quarterback Phil Mosely passes at Bill Power Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Uniontown.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Uniontown quarterback Phil Mosely passes at Bill Power Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Uniontown.

John Fortugna will have to be patient with the Uniontown football team.

According to Fortugna, the Red Raiders may start as many as seven sophomores as the team tries to rebound from a one-win season and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

“We are going to work with them and work with them,” Fortugna said. “We're going to have a lot of repetition. We will spend extra time making sure kids are doing things the right way and not developing bad habits.”

Fortugna is hoping a core group of seniors will be able to provide leadership, as well as be catalysts on offense and defense. Running back Ariene Washington should see plenty of touches after rushing for nearly 1,000 yards as a junior.

“Last year was really his first year at running back,” Fortugna said. “Ariene's a big back at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. He was a linebacker when he was a sophomore. We ran north and south a lot last year, but this year, we're changing to more of a spread. We weren't a great a passing team, and we put the ball in his hands a lot. He's a power runner, and he runs very hard every carry.”

Phil Mosely will be under center. Mosely saw action last season at quarterback along with graduate Lyric Ellis, and will be counted on to make the spread offense go.

“He does a good job for us,” Fortugna said. “We think he can be very quick in the spread offense. He's been working on reads all summer.”

Mosely will have Ben Wilson and Christian Forsythe as targets. Both have more experience on the defensive side of the ball, but Fortugna thinks both will play important roles on offense.

“Ben and Christian will both probably play both ways,” Fortugna said. “They're both hard workers and good leaders.”

Defensively, Uniontown's most experienced unit is its secondary. Mosely and Wilson likely will start. Regardless of what personnel the Red Raiders have on the field, Fortugna knows his team must become better fundamentally.

“We weren't very good at tackling last year,” Fortugna said.

Uniontown will compete in Class AAA's Big 9 Conference, along with Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity, West Mifflin and Yough.

“All the years I've been coaching, this is probably my youngest team,” Fortugna said. “We're going to take it one game at a time and see what happens. We're not going to talk about the playoffs or number of wins.”

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