Thursday, August 18, 2011

A long, winding road carries Camp Kovak to Beth-Center

Inside the music room at Beth-Center Elementary, where the Bulldogs coaching staff have used as living quarters since training camp began, is a dry-erase board with the last names of several key players.

Beside each name is a number - a recent 40-yard dash time.

Some of those numbers may not stack up with the likes of Ringgold or Washington, but, for Beth-Center, they represent a faster, hard-working group. Senior Deshan Brown, a multi-purpose threat on offense and an all-state defensive back according to Pennsylvania Football News, was clocked at 4.47 - the top time on the team. Senior quarterback/linebacker Sal Faieta, who is drawing some Division I attention, came in at 4.5. Junior running back Cody Durant (4.6) is not far behind.

For Beth-Center, those times might prove significant. The Bulldogs have been a steady Class A program for years. The past two seasons, however, they lost to Monessen during the regular season and did not advance past the WPIAL quarterfinals.

Team speed and undersized offensive lines have hurt the Bulldogs against strong competition both seasons.

"I'd say both things are what's kept us from taking the next step," Beth-Center coach Ed Woods said Thursday afternoon. "We had to get faster, and we had to get stronger. To be honest, we have to work harder, though I'm not sure that the kids can work harder than they are."

Top players: Sal Faieta, Jake Sofran

Faieta has heard from Pitt, West Virginia and is a top target for Youngstown State. He was team MVP as a sophomore and might be the strongest quarterback in the WPIAL. Sofran was the Bulldogs' MVP last season, and he's led the team in tackles and rushing yards in each of the past two seasons.

Watch out for: Cody Durant

Durant made the most of his touches last year as he averaged 8.8 yards per carry and 13.7 per reception. With the loss of Kyle Colborn, who moved to North Carolina, Durant along with Brown figure to be more prominent in the passing game.

Key position(s): Offensive line

The front five has been a concern for the Bulldogs in recent years, mainly due to a lack of size in comparison with opponents. Led by Zach Miller, the line is bigger and stronger, and they'll be counted upon to do more as Beth-Center adds more to its offense.

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