Sunday, August 23, 2009

Camp Kovak, third stop – Fort Cherry

Fort Cherry averaged 32.0 points per game in 2008 and had games where it scored 71, 54, 47 and 41 points. It added up to a solid 8-2 record – Fort Cherry's best since 2002 – and a second-place finish to Clairton in the Class A Black Hills Conference.

Quarterback David Phillips, running backs Derric Stankus and Nate Crossey and receiver Josh Snatchko have graduated. The quartet were responsible for much of the output.

Naturally, expecting Fort Cherry to remain as prolific on offense is a stretch but the Rangers do believe they have a talented group of underclassmen inheriting those vacated positions. Among them are sophomore quarterback Tanner Garry (pictured with father and Fort Cherry coach Tim Garry), junior tailback Gary Kiefer and sophomore fullback Corey Garry, Tanner's cousin.

Fort Cherry needs the trio to play well because only two starters – senior linemen Jordan Crowley and Mike Silla – return.

"We're having a youth movement," Tim Garry said. 'We have a lot of young kids moving into position. I expect some growing pains but I've also seen signs of good things."

Among them is Fort Cherry's defense, which brings back eight starters. The unit will be relied upon as the offense strives for consistency. Conference coaches believe it might not take too long.

"They're loaded," Avella coach Frank Gray said. "They're going to be a handful."

Clairton is the prohibitive favorite to repeat as conference champions. Fort Cherry, along with a group that includes Serra Catholic, Burgettstown, Chartiers-Houston and Bentworth, are vying for the other playoff positions.

The Bears are coming off an appearance in the state championship game, just like Serra did last year. Fort Cherry beat Serra in 2008.

"Serra went to states, came back with a lot of expectations and we beat them," Silla said. "What I'm saying is anything can happen."


Anonymous said...

Fort Cherry was formed in 1966 and has some incredible talent however they have never won a WPIAL Championship. In this time no one not named Garry has headed the program. Coincidence?

Anonymous said...

How many have you won

Anonymous said...

The article was about this years team if you want to start a coach bash blog of you own go right ahead but try and stay on topic if your small brain will allow you too.

Anonymous said...

I sure hope that FC goes into the playoffs on the opposite side of the bracket as Clairton. It almost seems impossible to beat them as they have so many weapons. However, an FC-Clairton rematch at Heinz Field with a title on the line may be FC's best shot to knock off the Bears. Why? Well the pressure and attention would almost solely be focused on Clairton and their quest to win a PIAA title. In a lot of ways the game would resemble the BP-Gateway AAAA final from last year. If FC were to play sound football, they might just upset the Clairton team.

Clairton Alum-- any thoughts/observations from the Clairton training camp so far? How has the new QB looked? Is he a possible D-1 guy for next year?

Clairton Alum said... good to be back. I love this time of year and I cant wait for September 4th.

I am going to try and be modest in my assessment of the bears as well as try to look objectively at the rest of the conference and single A. Since I was asked the question, I will answer about Clairton and Fort Cherry.

Clairton lost Andrew Currington, Troy Webb, CJ Hammonds, David Spence and Taylor Wright.

They have Kevin Weatherspoon, Deontae Howard, Eddie Ball and Desimond Green returning along with role players like Marquis Norris, Chanze James and Josh Page. Sorry to say for the WPIAL Class A, Clairton is loaded.

Desimond Green had a coming out party last year on Defense...he was a beast. The kid goes about 6-4 or 6-5 and is pretty fast. He has a better arm than currington and Webb and throws a very accurate deep ball. He will have no problem seeing over the line and has been bred as a QB since he started playing football...he will be fine at the QB position. As far as calling him a D-1 guy...lets wait and see how he looks this year. I think he is a D-1 guy on defense for sure.

The question mark on Clairton's it is every year with Clairton and most teams in "A" the O and D line. Size and depth is always an issue and could be this year. But with not a huge loss in talent from last years team, barring injury, they should be just fine.

This is the year for Clairton. This is it. If they are going to win a state title in football this is the year they are going to do it. Those 3 seniors (weatherspoon, howard, ball) along with Green have been playing together since they were 5 and 6 and this is the group that has been watched coming up through the ranks. Add into that a coach that could be retiring (Nola) and two assistants (Bukowski and Ledonn) who could be headed to head coaching jobs somewhere around the WPIAL next year along with some extra motivation to win with the death of their assistant coach in the off season and you have a team with everything on the line in 2009. If they dont win it this year its going to be a long road back.

Around the rest of the Black Hills Conference I like Burgettstown, and Serra to give Clairton some competition. I think Chartiers-Houston is going to have an off year and Bentworth (sorry Lou), Frazier and Avella arent going to contend. I think Fort Cherry is probably a year away on offense. There defense looks solid and should keep them in some games this season...maybe even strongly competing with Serra and Burgettstown...but they are going to have to score points and with only 1 player returing on offense and a trio of sophmore talent at the skill positions it could be tough for FC early on until they get their footing. If I had to make my early prediction, I would say the order of finish will be Clairton, Serra, Burgettstown and Fort Cherry. Serra and Burgettstown could switch spots, but i think those 4 teams will be in.

As far as FC's run to a spot at Heinz to meet Clairton...dont forget about the best conference from top to bottom in single A which is the Big 7 in Beaver County. Clairton struggles with those teams every year as was evident last year with Rochester and Monaca. Those teams are always well represented in the playoffs. 4 of the final 8 teams in the playoffs last year in class A were Big 7 teams.

But anything can happen in the playoffs. Its happened to Clairton a few times where we have been tripped up by could happen again. We'll see. Long way off from playoff time though and anything could happen in between. As far as the rest of single A goes...

Rochester is always tough and will be again this year. Watch out for North Catholic as they could make a serious run. I have heard the Monessen hype start already...and with who they have returning they should be good...but they start out with Rochester and Clairton right off the bat so we'll see how good they really are. Beth Center will be ok also.

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Clairton Alum,

Any thoughts on how Manny Williams has been doing at Pitt? Do you think he will end up being an even better player than he was projected to be coming out of high school?

Also, Do you think Weatherspoon will be offense or defense in college?

Anonymous said...

I do believe the first graduating class from Fort Cherry was 1960.
The new building opened in the fall of "59" and Midway, Hickory and McDonald were then history.

Clairton Alum said...

I want to see Manny get some more playing time before I say anything about him...he should get some this season.

Kevin, more than likely, will be put on D at Pitt...but you never know, they could use him as a slot guy. Kevin is a tough kid.

Anonymous said...

Any other future D-1 guys on the Clairton roster this year? It seems like the pipeline to Pitt is flowing well and should continue to do so!

Clairton Alum said...

I REALLY like Deontae Howard. Deontae is a GREAT kid...I mean great. He is very intelligent, very grounded...a wonderful kid and a very good football player. Deontae is going to turn some heads this year, but because of his size he'll be no more than a D-2 player unfortunately. I wish i could put that kids mind, work ethic and drive in a bigger body.

Eddie Ball is also a very good, strong kid...but again with his size he is no more than a D-2 prospect also.

The one to watch out for is Desimond Green. He is a junior this year and the word on the street is that he will have a bunch of scouts watching him...all D-1. Desimond is the one to watch outside of Weatherspoon as far as D-1 talent goes. As long as Desimond can stay focused, keep his composure and not try and do too much you will be hearing a lot about him this season.

Anonymous said...

I know the FC coach is trying to keep his players upbeat by saying they have a chance against clairton and comparing clairton to serra but you cant make that comparion seriously. serra lost a lot of talent from that state team to last years team and clairton really hasnt. I hate to say it but i think clairton is probably going to run away with the title again.

Anonymous said...

Serious question: How do you pronounce Desimond Green's name? Is it Dezi-Mond, Dez-mond, or something else?

Anonymous said...

Here is a question for all you PT people (or just the one deranged PT poster). Please give me proof, factual evidence that PT has improved that much since their 2-7 campaign last season. And please stay away from "ehrenburg is awesome" or "we have great speed". Please give some insightful, detailed analysis.

Clairton Alum said...

its dez-mond. People butcher his name all the time.

Anonymous said...

Peters will be good this year and the rest of the conference is way down. CM stinks, maybe even Trinity will beat them this year, Baldwin is bad as always, ML stinks and Bethel graduated their whole team.

The only team between PT and a conference championship is USC and everyone knows they are soft.

FB fan said...

Saying Fort Cherry could hang with or beat Clairton this year is the most ridiculous statement I've seen on here in a while. They lost by 40 last year and were full of seniors and experience. They'll be a tough team, but Clairton could be most AA and AAA teams based on the talent at their skill positions alone.

Anonymous said...

Fort Cherry was formed in 1960.
They still have never won a WPIAL title. That isn't coach bashing, it is community bashing and school board bashing for not having the guts to remove the Garry's from the program. You will always have the talent and always come up a few games short with them at the helm. That is just the way it has been and always will be.
Your Friend,
Ghost of Brad Tokar

Anonymous said...

I would really like to see clairton play a sub par quad a team like connelsville or plum or baldwin just to see if they could beat them.

Anyone think they could?

Clairton Alum said...

I dont know...i think our skill players are better but their lines would have to be bigger and deeper than ours I would imagine. I could see those teams wearing Clairton down as the game progressed.

Anonymous said...

To: Coach Garry Basher

Yes...Fort Cherry has come close many times in the past 25 years or so...there were some very good teams from 1985-2008. In that 24 year stretch they only had a sub .500 record 5 times. That's extremely good.

I would say the best teams from those years were 86,87,90,94,96,97,98,99,and 01. Some great talent!

I believe they lost in the semi-finals 4 times and in the finals twice during that period. They also had an undefeated regular season in 98.

To win a WPIAL championship you have to have a lot of talent, good coaching,...and LUCK! Who did they lose to in the years I mentioned above? Teams that were probably better than them. Do some homework and I'll bet you'll find out I'm right. They just always have ran into the wrong team at the wrong time, as far as I'm concerned.

By the way, who would "you" have put in as the Head Coach during these times? I'm sure you have an answer for that! Maybe you would have done a better job, right?

James Garry was nothing but a stand up gentleman...and a great coach. And Tim Garry has done a good job since taking over.

Where do you coach, again???

Anonymous said...

Fort Cherry = the best program to have won absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the entire history of FC football (all coached by Jim or Tim Garry), how many schools can
compare in the consistancy of producing winners. No WPIAL many schools have won a WPIAL. It is nice to win a WPIAL, but, it is more difficult to remain competitive over time.
Hats off to Jim & Tim.

Anonymous said...

It's really sad to see that some people only use this site to bash football coaches. Chances are high that the people writing this garbage are either players who didn't start or the parents of players who didn't start. Try to do the Christian thing and at least be accurate in your comments. Your rantings are hurtful and rude, unfortunately that is probabaly what you were going for anyway.