Thursday, August 25, 2011

Camp Kovak visits defending WPIAL Class AA champs

South Fayette's football camp has a different feel to it this year, and it has little to do with the Lions coming off their first WPIAL championship since 1964.

That feeling has a lot more to do with the loss of 19 seniors from last year's team. Gone are all-state players Christian Brumbaugh, Jeff Davis, Nick Faraci, Tyler Challingsworth and Eric Myers. Many of their replacements are sophomores and juniors with precious little varsity experience, even some seniors unable to crack the depth chart a year ago.

It's been a learning experience for most players, and coaches too. Stoppages to correct mistakes are common. So are up-downs when the coaching staff isn't happy with execution.

"We're back to fundamentals. There's a lot of work to do," head coach Joe Rossi said. "In some ways, we're starting from square one."

Graduation hit South Fayette hard, but the cupboard is hardly empty. Junior Zach Challingsworth will be a focal point offensively, as will senior Trevor Fiorentini. Rossi expects big things from seniors Tyler Patterson and Nathan Smith as well.

Given South Fayette's depth at receiver, the Lions will still employ a spread offense though they could mix in more suprise packages than in the past.

Plus, it helps that the offensive line returns three players.

"We need two linemen to fill those two spots and we need some quarterback play," Rossi said. "That's the key. We have some talent around them."

Top players: Zach Challingsworth, Trevor Fiorentini
Challingsworth played for PA Swag this summer, though he did not travel with the team when Gateway's Darrell Turner was shot and killed in North Carolina on their way to a football camp in Florida.
He'll play receiver, safety and even a little quarterback for South Fayette in an attempt to get him more touches.
Fiorentini started at fullback and linebacker last year, and he switched to tailback when Jeff Davis was not able to finish the PIAA Class AA championship game last year. Fiorentini has size and moves, plus he scored 13 touchdowns as a junior.

Watch out for: Grant Fetchet
Fetchet, a sophomore, is seeing ample time at tailback during camp and should become a key offensive contributor. He's not as big as Davis, but shows some burst. South Fayette likes their running backs to catch passes, so tailback is a vital role.

Fitting in: South Fayette has assumed the mantle of preseason favorite in the Century Conference, and why not? The Rebels, with players like Kevin Hart and Wisconsin commit and Waynesburg resident Scott Orndoff, will be strong. Washington should also be improved as the Prexies return a wealth of players who gained valuable experience last year.
Still, the perception remains that South Fayette may not experience much drop-off. I talked to at least one coach of another team who expects the Lions to compete for a WPIAL title.

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