Penn-Trafford plans to perpetuate winning tradition
The Penn-Trafford High School football team enters the 2002 season fresh off a 7-3 record and a Quad South title.
To head coach Art Tragesser, last year was another winning chapter in the history of Warriors football. And while he's always looking ahead, he knows the 2001 season was something this year's team can use as motivation.
The Warriors lost 21 starters before the 2001 season, but still were able to qualify for the postseason for the seventh consecutive year before losing to Bethel Park 20-6 in the first round of the playoffs.
"Those kids did a great job last year," Tragesser said. "They were a bunch of overachievers. I think we were picked to finish next to last in our section."
The same retooling won't be necessary this season. A strong offensive line will anchor Penn-Trafford's offense. Team captains John Bozan (6-foot-4, 260 pounds) and Steve Weir (6-2, 220 pounds) will lead the group that will clear holes for the running game and protect the quarterback.
"We will look to those two for a lot of leadership," Tragesser said. "It's a good base to build from."
Competition to become the team's starting quarterback is under way. Last year's starter, Rick Evans, graduated. Tragesser said four players will vie for the starting job, including senior Kenny Frederick. Tragesser said Frederick saw some game action last season.
"We're going to look to him for leadership," Tragesser said.
The Warriors also need to find a new running back. Last season, Nick Tropiano had most of the carries, but the dependable back graduated. Senior Mike Hampton spent the season as his understudy and could receive a significant number of carries.
Other possibilities include moving junior Blaise Abramowitz from the slot position to the backfield. Or, Tragesser could use him in both spots. Abramowitz had 47 carries for 500 yards in 2001, and Tropiano led the team with 621 rushing yards.
Jeff Oravec, a key member of last year's receiving corps, returns for his senior year to help stabilize the passing game. He caught 15 passes for 333 yards and 3 TDs last season.
No matter who plays the positions, expect the Warriors to throw a few surprises into weekly game plans. Last season, Penn-Trafford surprised Hempfield Area with "The Hicky" in a 14-0 win.
The play — which saw Evans hand off to Tropiano, who then gave the ball to Abramowitz, who pitched it back to Evans, allowing the quarterback to fire downfield to a wide-open Oravec for a 34-yard gain — helped set up a key score.
Will there be more wrinkles in the Penn-Trafford offense this season?
"We'll throw in a few things here and there," Tragesser said.
Penn-Trafford's defense should be up to the task again this season. When he isn't playing on the offensive line, Weir can be found patrolling at linebacker.
"(Weir) is a very good competitor," Tragesser said. "He's the type of kid every coach would like to have."
The Warriors gave up just 107 points last season, fewest in the Quad South.