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High School Sports

Rotosky returns in hope of turnaround

| Sunday, Aug. 21, 2005

Watching Pete Rostosky easily coordinate a three-team scrimmage on a steamy, mid-August morning isn't surprising. He is, after all, Elizabeth Forward's coach.

But after a tumultuous close to the 2004 season, Rostosky's continued presence on the sideline wasn't a certainty.

The Warriors finished 4-5 last season and failed to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. Rostosky submitted his letter of resignation at season's end, capping a tough campaign in which he served a one-game suspension after his team was implicated in the vandalism of Thomas Jefferson's visiting locker room.

But Rostosky reconsidered, and he'll coach the Warriors for a second season. He won't comment on his change of heart -- "I'm not touching that question," he said, backing away and smiling -- but a glance at the Warriors' roster may shed some light.

Elizabeth Forward has 26 seniors on its 49-man roster. Nine of the 11 offensive starters are seniors.

"We have a lot of leadership on this team," offensive coordinator Kevin Russell said. "With the players we have coming back, and with the ability that they have, there's the potential to do a lot of positive things."

The Warriors' offense occasionally managed flurries of yards and points in 2004. They scored at least 20 points four times, including 35 in a 28-point victory against Montour. But EF was shut out twice in the final four games and scored only a touchdown in a 10-7 loss to Peters Township in Week 4.

"I liked some of the things I saw on both offense and defense," Rostosky said after the Warriors concluded their joint scrimmage with McGuffey and South Park on Aug. 13. "You have to remember that I'm judging that after only a week (of practice). But I think we're starting to do the little things we need to do."

Marquis Johnson, the Warriors' top rusher in 2004 (629 yards, five touchdowns), graduated, as did leading receiver Garrett Scales (11 catches, 207 yards, two TDs). Quarterback Randy Santina is back, a quick-footed, strong-armed senior who completed 57 of 112 attempts for 603 yards and five scores. He also ran for five scores, providing a versatile option in EF's shotgun/spread offense.

"A lot of people don't think we'll run when we're in the shotgun, because it's not something you'd expect to see," Russell said. "But Randy can (run and pass), and do both well."

Mike Lugarich, who counted three TDs among his 14 carries in 2004, is expected to play tailback after he recovers from a head injury. Dale Thornton, EF's second-leading rusher last season with 161 yards, joins fellow back Travis Summers and receiving threats Devin Goda, Todd Hanus and Ed Weiland. Tackle Will Snyder is a potent blocker on offense and gap-clogger on defense.

"We have some young talent, but we'll only go as far as our group of seniors takes us," Russell said. "A lot of our kids got to play last year, and we had to take some bad with the good. But I believe we're headed in the right direction."

Additional Information:

Fast facts

  • Pete Rostosky graduated from Elizabeth Forward in 1979 and played college football at Connecticut, but he's better known as a former offensive lineman for the Steelers. He played from 1984-86.

  • Other former Warriors who played in the NFL are: Craig Cotton, a tight end for Detroit, Chicago and San Diego from 1969-75; Greg Paterra, an Atlanta running back in 1989; and Tony Rubino, a Detroit guard from 1943-46.

  • Kevin Russell, the Warriors' offensive coordinator, was the quarterback for Thomas Jefferson when the Jaguars won the WPIAL Class AAA crown in 1980.

  • Elizabeth Forward has not won a postseason game since 1990, when it defeated Montour, 14-7, in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

  • The Warriors' most recent winning season was in 2000, when they were 6-5. That also was the last year EF qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.

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