GCC receivers deliver in more ways than one
Ask Evan Marshall about his season highlights and the Greensburg Central Catholic receiver will tell you about his two-touchdown game against Washington.
His coaches will tell you about his blocks.
Marshall cleared the way for a long touchdown run against Freeport with a block that drew praise. In that same game, teammate and fellow wideout Ross DeGlau smacked into a Freeport defensive end on three consecutive plays, leaving the defender a little more agitated each time.
"That's part of your job when you're a wide receiver here," DeGlau said. "You spend half of practice working on blocking drills. They expect us to block like linemen."
The two seniors are key parts of a Greensburg Central Catholic passing game that has often been overlooked because the Centurions can run the football like few other teams in the area. Standout running back David Miller, a senior, has rushed for 1,723 yards and leads the WPIAL with 33 touchdowns.
So, despite talented receivers, passing at times has been Plan B.
"If the run stalls, we're able to throw the ball," coach Muzzy Colosimo said.
The Centurions (9-2) will likely lean a little more heavily upon their multiple-receiver formations during tonight's WPIAL Class AA semifinal against a strong Keystone Oaks defense at Elizabeth-Forward. An offensive formation with double tight ends and three running backs might be followed by one with five receivers and no running backs.
It's a variation the team has used with increasing frequency to keep defenses unprepared.
"For us to be successful this week, we have to be able to spread those guys out and put (the defense) where we want them on the field," Colosimo said. "You can never put nine guys in the box because these guys can catch the ball."
Senior quarterback Trent Hurley, a Bowling Green recruit, has completed 82 of 158 passes for 1,474 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Marshall, the team's leading receiver, has caught 35 passes for 670 yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot, 180-pound senior has the group's best hands and takes dropped passes personally, his coach said.
DeGlau has 14 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior provides the biggest target and has excellent speed when running after the catch.
They're joined by senior Ed Day (6-2, 190), sophomore Justin Kempka (6-2, 195) and junior Andy Biros (5-9, 160). Miller, who sometimes lines up at receiver, has added another 17 catches and 291 yards.
"We have a lot of depth and a lot of kids who are big, strong and physical," Marshall said. "From top to bottom, we have a pretty good group of receivers."
The Centurions showcased just enough of their passing game in victories over Jeannette and Charleroi to make others worry about stopping it, Colosimo said. DeGlau caught his touchdown pass against South Allegheny. Marshall had his two-touchdown game against Washington. Against Mt. Pleasant, the quick-strike offense nearly helped them rally for a victory in what was a one-point loss.
"That has opened up our offense a lot more," DeGlau said. "We have the opportunity to surprise teams with our passing attack because Trent is an awesome quarterback. He can do a lot of things. We have trust in him and his arm."
Hurley needed to complete only five passes in Greensburg Central Catholic's quarterfinal victory over Center, 30-0. By comparison, Miller ran the football 27 times for 209 yards. Among Hurley's completions, though, were gains of 18, 28 and 48 yards.
"We don't pass much," DeGlau said, "but when we do it works."
But for the receivers, practice hasn't changed: they were back hitting the one-man blocking sled.
"If you can't block," Marshall said, "you don't get on the field."