Dynamos look to catapult into Class A playoff picture
The Springdale High School football program has made some strides the past several seasons after a lengthy doldrum period.
But the Dynamos have yet to make that final breakthrough - a WPIAL playoff berth.
Veteran head coach Chuck Wagner feels that goal is attainable with a line used long ago by another veteran head coach.
"We want to be like old Bum Phillips and finally break that door down," Wagner said. "We've challenged in the past and came up short."
Wagner is in his 41st season of coaching, the 38th as a head coach. His career started when Dwight Eisenhower was sitting in the White House.
The Dynamos finished 4-6 overall in 2001, 2-5 in the Eastern Conference.
For Springdale to get into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, the Dynamos are going to have to vault past some of the WPIAL's most storied programs such as Clairton, Duquesne, Riverview and newcomer Brentwood.
Wagner has gone against Brentwood's program in the past as a head coach at Springdale and, earlier, Riverview.
"We've played them in a 10th game twice over the last several years," Wagner said. "We've went down to the wire in both of them, and we won one of them."
Wagner likes the 10th game concept, initiated by the WPIAL several years ago for nonplayoff teams.
"Naturally, we'd like to be in the playoffs, but it's one more chance for your seniors to play, and you get to see how you line up against other conferences."
Springdale hopes to use last season's 10th game victory over West Shamokin as a springboard toward a 2002 playoff spot. One of the stars of that 28-8 season-ending victory was Dave Mator, who rushed for 203 yards, including an 85-yard scoring run.
"Dave has a great combination of strength, balance and speed," Wagner said. "If he stays healthy, he can be Springdale's first 1,000-yard season rusher. We have no one on record who has ever gone for 1,000 yards."
"A lot of teams have lost a lot of good players," Mator said. "We have a lot of good people coming back, a lot of linemen, and that should pull us through."
The Eastern Conference is best known for its speed and, for once, Springdale will be part of it.
Mator'a best time in the 40 (-yard dash) is 4.41. He rushed for 718 yards last season, averaging 7.3 per carry.
Expected to help out Mator in the offensive backfield are junior Justin Anderson, senior fullback Gabe Koprivnikar and sophomore Joey Hartwick.
Quarterbacking the Dynamos will be Jon Molnar (6-foot-3, 195-pounds), who has put on some size and strength during the offseason. He replaces Billy Wenzel, who transferred out of the Allegheny Valley School District last winter.
Backing up Molnar will be Andrew Bosman, a freshman who led an outstanding Springdale junior high squad last season.
Wagner has eliminated the two-tight end offense he operated for a number of seasons and will be going with a straight T formation.
Molnar's targets include junior Lucas Cox (6-6, 220) at tight end, senior Bob Reiter (5-11, 183) at wide receiver Mat Kostewicz (6-4, 195) at flanker.
Part of the reason for the optimism at Springdale is the extensive weightroom training in the offseason. Wagner credits assistant coach Don 'Pappy' Boulton for his work in the training room.
Seventeen Springdale players weigh more than 200 pounds. The school was one of the last to install a weightroom. There was a time during the 1980s that a 200-pounder in orange and black was a rarity.
Returning lettermen include seniors Marcus Martin and Doug Zott, juniors Evan Neergaard (5-10, 225), Antonio Mattone (6-3, 255) and J.D. Rau (6-2, 225) and sophomore Colin Dugan (6-2, 230). Dugan could be a college prospect by the time he is a senior.
Springdale will kick off its 77th football campaign Friday at home against Union, the same school it beat in the 1973 WPIAL championship game.
|Head Coach: Chuck Wagner|