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High School Sports

Passing fancy

| Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wearing an orange No. 60 practice jersey and red shorts, Greater Latrobe senior Tony DeStefano eyed Brookville's defense, took a three-step drop and overthrew his receiver by several feet.

To most experienced players, the incomplete pass would have been a disappointment. But DeStefano, after taking a season off from football, looked past the play, got the next one from coach Pat Murray and went on with the game-like scenario Tuesday at the 10th annual seven-on-seven Trojan Passing Camp at Derry Area High School.

After completing his next two passes, he left no doubts.

"I'll be ready," said DeStefano, who played baseball last fall instead of football. "It was tough going to the (football) games in the fall."

Instead of playing football, DeStefano played for the Allegheny Pirates, a team that specializes in getting players recruited to college.

But after watching his team finish 3-7, he decided to return for his senior year and compete for the starting quarterback position.

"Missing a year hurts any player," Murray said. "But he has some tremendous athletic ability, and I'm confident that he can do anything."

But after being a three-sport athlete for almost his entire high school career, DeStefano also played wide receiver Tuesday.

"We put him at receiver because we were a little short on receivers," Murray said. "But playing receiver will make him a better quarterback and he will get to know the offense a little better."

Latrobe was one of nine teams at the camp Monday and Tuesday. Everyone is looking for a common goal: a sense of stability entering camp in August.

"We're just looking to put the kids in the right positions," said Serra Catholic coach Rich Bowen, who will be coaching his first season at his alma mater after spending five years at Yough. "I would like to see us become a team here."

Many teams used time at the camp to help develop plays and experiment with different offenses.

"We're not quite sure what kind of team we're going to be," Bowen said. "We could run out of the I-formation or be a spread team. We're still trying to find our best plan of attack."

Schools at the camp, four of which fielded two seven-man squads, ranged from one of the smallest Class A schools (Serra) to large Class AAAA schools (Norwin and Latrobe).

"I love this format," said Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel, who is in his second season. "This is great for us. For us to play the big schools like Norwin, Greensburg Salem and Latrobe, it gives us an advantage when we go and play the schools of our own size."

Derry coach Jim Paul said nine schools is a record turnout for the camp.

"This is all for the kids and it's a good atmosphere," Paul said. "This is a very relaxed atmosphere. You don't hear any yelling and screaming. This is seven-on-seven and everyone's just enjoying it."

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