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2008 Coach's Corner

Coach's Corner #1

1. How many players came out for the team this year and how many have those will have made it through the preseason and stuck with the team?

We started camp with 61 players and at the end of now we have 59.

 

2. You mentioned to me before that you had some injury issues during the first week of practice, how are those injured healing up and will they be ready for Bedford?

Most of the injuries were muscle pulls, but we do have 3 knee injuries, an ankle and a torn groin. We will have 5 players out for the game with Bedford.

 

3. Even with Richard Agurs out, it appears you have great depth at wide receiver. Can you comment on some of those guys and how they may have stepped it up at camp?

We are expecting Richard Agurs back for Friday. We have a lot of depth at receiver and that is a luxury. Jordan Jefferson is doing a great job and Marcus Seals is contributing with Richard being out during the preseason. We also have Carlton Wyatt who is progressing well along with Donnie McKinley.

 

4. Has anyone else impressed you offensively at camp? It seems like the shotgun spread plays add a whole new element to the offense but even in traditional sets, it appears that a lot of guys have chances to get involved this year.

We feel everyone has contributed to this point. As a staff we felt that our best attribute was to spread the ball around as much as possible. By doing this no team can single in and say that this is the person getting the ball. It is going to be a team effort to win games and it will start with the offense. We want all of our players to be unselfish. The whole spread was designed from what we started last year. We have adapted everything from our offensive concept last year.

 

5. Flipping sides of the ball to the defense, it looked like there was quite a turn around from the first to second scrimmage, especially stopping the run. Has anyone stood out or is a total unit effort?

Once again we need the whole defense to step up and play. We try to get each player to buy into the team philosophy and not rely on just one individual. We felt stopping the run is an area that we needed to improve on. Last year we did not have experience at the inside backer position and that hurt us. We feel to this point that we have 4-5 players that can step in and play this position. Going into Bedford we feel we also need to improve on our pass coverage.

 

6. John Maurizio connected on a few PATs against Central Cambria, can you comment on how big it is at the high school level to have a dependable placekicker and what you might expect from John this year, both kicking and punting?

This is an area that is important. Special teams is 1/3 of the game. With Jon he provides us with a luxury of being able to do both. We will be able to have confidence with him in kicking the important extra point and also have confidence in kicking field goals. As far as punting he is getting more consitent and that will be a huge factor for us to being sucessful on special teams. We do need to get better play from our kickoff team as far as covering his kickoffs.

 

7. Staying with special teams, how is the return game coming along? I know it's hard to simulate in practice and you don't get too many chances in scrimmages but who do to expect to handle these duties?

We do spend a lot of time with the return game and it looks good in practice, but we have not been under any fire to this point in time. The only sure deep person to this this point is Quadir Christian. We are looking to some other players, but nothing has been finalized to this point.

 

8. Finally, to week one and Bedford, what have the Bisons showed you on film and what will the team need to do to bring home the "W"?

Bedford is going to be a stiff challenge to us. They have not shown a lot of formations to prepare for, but with the limited formations they do things that if we are not in postion they will hurt us. The fullback runs hard and will be a threat on the dive. The wing back is quick and could hurt us on the counter. Basically we need to play assignment football to stop them on defense. On Bedfords defensive side they will play a base 53 which they will test us with the different shades. We need to know our blocking assignments and be able to handle anything they do. As with any first game emotions are high and limiting mistakes is a must.

 

Coach's Corner #2

1. The running back by committee looked good on Friday night. Can you comment a little each on Christian, Pretlor and Rose's contributions to a great ground attack as well as the most important part of that success, the offensive line?

Quadir Christian is small and quick. He is the player we like to go to on our power or toss. Kashmir Pretlor is a power back who offers the luxury of running up inside, but he has speed to get outside. Quatrell Rose is a patient runner who reads the seams when we run zone. He may not have the great 40 time, but can run when he gets in back of the secondary. As I said in the pre season our O line should be a strong point for us. They all return from last season and know the blocking schemes. Each lineman is very intelligent and they all work well together. The majority of the linemen worked together in the weight room which gives them all a strong bond together.

 

2. The defense got two key turnovers in the interception deep in Bedford territory and the fumble recovery deep in Johnstown territory, how do you think they did overall Friday night? Obviously, Bedford losing Brett hurt them in the running game but did you feel the guys, especially the front eight, stepped up the challenge against the run?

I was pleased with the way the defense responded in the second half, but we need to improve in the little things of playing defense. I felt we missed a lot of tackles, we did not cover the pass the way we are capable of covering, and we did not do some of the little things that need to be done in order to be a good defense. An example of that is not jamming the tight end or wing as they are instructed to do. I felt in the second half the d line and inside backers started to do the little things which helped us stop the run. Obviously losing Brett took a big part of the rushing offense away. Overall to be successful each player has to know his job and not worry about someone elses.

 

3. Although Jon Maurizio kicked one off out of bounds, he did have three touchbacks and although Bedford forced our hand with going for two early in the game and he didn't get a chance to boot a PAT until late in the game, he played a big part in the field position game, can you comment on his work Friday night?

I thought Jon did a very good job with his kickoffs. When a team has to drive 80 or more yards it gives the defense some breathing room and allows them to bend a little. As far as kicking extra points Jon is very consistent, and will be a real asset to our team. I always stress that the special teams are 1/3 of the game. Many times the special teams play a vital role in a win or a loss.

 

4. Now, onto Forest Hills. The Rangers are always a tough team and they look like they have a balanced attack and a really good all-purpose running back, can you give us some offensive and defensive keys for this week?

On offense we must take care of the ball and not make mental mistakes. We cannot get caught not recognizing the type of shades and not recognizing keys of when they will bring pressure or slant. We must be able to run the ball effectively in order to make our passing game more effective. On defense we will have to make sure we are in position to make plays. We must prove that we can stop their power game and always being alert to the screen in long situations. We also need to protect the middle of the field because he will throw the ball in the middle. As everyone knows Coach Bailey is very good at taking advantage of what you give him. I feel we will need to limit our defensive package and concentrate on doing some of the little things more effectively.

 

5. Lastly, a few quick questions, not related to JHS. First, you spent a lot of time with Jerry Page at Laurel Valley and he got a milestone Friday night in his 200th victory, can you tell us what that meant to you to see him get that victory? And, most important of all, the Tribune-Democrat story on the JHS/Bedford game stated that you left immediately after the game because your son was injured. How is he doing?

It could not have happened to a better person or coach. Coach Page is a quality person who does not care about personal goals. I feel he has 1000 wins because of all the lives he has touched in his career. Coach Page is a deserving and caring coach that left a celebration at the high school on Friday night after the game to be with my son in the hospital, so I feel that shows you the type of person he is. As for my son he was injured just before halftime. He has a grade 2-3 concussion and is still having side effects from it. He is not allowed in school until after his brain trauma follow up on Thursday. He will be out at least two weeks and possibly longer.

 

Coach's Corner #3
 

1. A loss is a loss but you have to be impressed with the ways the guys bounced back in the second half, not too many teams can rally from a 21-0 deficit to force overtime. Can you talk a little about the overall effort of the team?

At halftime I really didn’t know what direction we were going to go. We talked about having some pride in everything we do. I said to this point not much pride was being shown and I asked was for the team to go out and give everything they didn’t give in the first half and give it all in the second. At the end of the game look in the mirror and be able to say I left it on the field. At the end I was really proud of their effort because they left everything on the field. I think we grew as a team because of the tears that were shed and a sense of each player cared about the performance.

2. Are the reports of Kashmir Pretlor's injury as being a broken ankle true and if so, I'm assuming the prognosis is that he'll be lost for the season? Can you talk a little about what a shame that is because Kashmir really looked like he was emerging as a team leader on both sides of the ball?

Kashmir’s ankle was not broke it was dislocated. The only problem is he has ligament damage and will be in a cast for approximately 4 weeks and another 2-4 in rehab time. He was really coming along as a back and outside linebacker. This will definitely hurt us on both sides of the ball.

3. After a relatively penalty-free game against Bedford, there was a bit of yellow laundry on the field Friday night, including more than a few pre-snap penalties, what can you guys do to avoid those types of mental mistakes?

I was really disappointed in the penalties because we do pride ourselves in discipline. The pre snap penalties are what I call mental errors and for whatever reason we were not in the right mind frame on Friday. We work on mental preparation in practice as far as changing snap count in practice especially at the end when we are tired. The other penalties are not going hard all the time and when you are getting beat you tend to grab and clutch.

4. Another big game from the kicker/punter Jon Marauzio. You had him lined up for a 37-yard field goal and although the Forest Hills penalty made it a 32-yarder, you obviously have confidence in him to put the three points on the board. It must be nice to know you have someone that you can count on in a tight spot and you might need him in a close game at some point of the year. His kickoffs continue to go deep and he's played a huge part in the field position game. Can you again talk about both his placekicking and his improving punting performances as well?

Jon works very hard in practice and takes pride in what he does. He is never satisfied with his performance and always strives to do better. It is a real weapon to have him on our sideline.

5. Moving on to Friday's game with Westmont, they have a new coach and pretty much a new attitude and despite having an 0-2 record they always play Johnstown tough and it's been an even series since the Trojans joined the LHAC. What do you think will be some of the keys of the game on both sides of the ball in order to grab that "W"?

It seems as though Westmont has our number and will definitely be tough for us. They are only a few points from being undefeated and are a scary team. I seen them in person once and on film a couple of times and the one thing I can say is they do not quit. We need to be able to handle the pressure they will put on our offensive line with the different looks and stunts they do in the 3-3 defense. I really feel our o-line will be the key to winning the game on offense. On the defensive side of the ball we need to begin to defend the pass better. I feel Josh Swick can throw the ball well and has a tall receiver in Mike Valcheff. We also must keep a good eye on TJ Keklak because we feel he is a real game breaker. He really makes things happen. They place him in various places which proves he is the one that they rely on when things get tough.

 

Coach's Corner #4
 

1. I know it's hard to find a positive in a loss, but your defense only gave up six points and in most weeks, that's enough to win. Did anything stand out to you from this unit in the loss?

I was very happy the way the defense played. I had challenged the defense all week to start playing the way they are capable of playing. I thought we were very good against the run and overall swarmed to the football. We still need to improve vs the pass.

 

2. To the offense, obviously getting shut out is a huge disappointment and even though you guys did have some shots, the team was ultimately kept off the scoreboard. What factors do you believe led to this and what can you do to make sure it doesn't happen again?

I felt the offensive intensity was not there. We had enough opportunities to score, but could not get it done. Obviously I was very disappointed and wish I could use the excuse of the weather, but as we know it really did not affect Westmont. We just could not complete passes when we needed to and did not block people. When you do that it is very hard to win. Ultimately I am the person to blame and corrections will be made to rectify not scoring.

 

3. The Special Teams came up big with a blocked kick, can you talk about how big a play that was, especially in a game as close as this one?

We have worked on blocking field goals and extra points in practice, but Daveon Simms had great determination to get through and block the kick. He is so quick off the edge and just laid himself out to get the block. We do spend a lot of time in practice on special teams and hopefully we will continually get better. To block a kick it comes down to determination and some internal fortitude to get it done.

 

4. Moving on to Richland, the Rams are coming off a big win over Bishop Carroll. Although one can look at it as Richland taking advantage of BC being without Julock and their quarterback, a win is a win and they were able to roll up BIG numbers on BC's defense with Ramires tossing five touchdowns. What can you tell us about Richland on both sides of the ball as well as the job Coach Bailey has done building that program?

Obviously they have a tremendous run of athletes and are doing a great job of playing football. Right now the ingredients are right for them. I was at the game on Saturday night and I thought that Richland answered every time Bishop Carroll scored. As far as Bishop Carroll being without the two top players they still had their hand full. Richland is so skilled on offense that they can answer anything you give them on defense. I feel Ramires is very skilled at QB. He makes things happen either with his arm or with his feet. He does not get rattled with pressure which stands out. The Riffle boy is a very good receiver and Curcija can hurt you with power running. The no huddle offense also keeps the defense on their toes. We will need a great effort by our defense to slow the offense down. I think the best defense will be our offense. We need to control the ball and keep the Richland offense off the field. The Richland defense is also very good. They seem to have great strength in the front line and the linebackers react very well. The secondary is also fairly solid. So I feel as I do every week we need to limit our mistakes, minimal penalties and take advantage of any mistakes that Richland will make.

 

Coach's Corner #5
 

1.  On offense, it seemed like you guys ran more of the spread, shotgun stuff than you have in normal weeks.  Is that something that was planned or did it just evolve with your evaulation of the players and putting them in the best positions to win? 

 

We have committed to the spread and what everyone is seeing is the progression of the spread.  We do have great athletes and these are different ways in which we are going to get the ball into different players hands.

 

 

 

2.  Jordan Jefferson in the backfield as a running back is something new, again is this just a way to get a talented kid more touches and can you talk about his contribution to the win Friday night? 

 

Once again these are just ways as you said to get different players touches.  Jordan is a great athelete that needs to get his hands on the ball.  We feel the way we are working the spread in each week it is starting to make us a difficult team to scout.

 

 

  

3.  Can you give us an assessment overall of the defense's performance Friday night?  They held a very potent offense to just six points. 

 

I felt this was the first time since I have been at Johnstown that we physically beat a team.  I was so impressed on how players were flying to the ball.  I also thought the players are making things happen on defense and just feeling comfortable with what they are doing.  I now think we are reacting to situations and not thinking.  Richland was a very difficult offense to stop, but we felt if we put pressure on them it would cause them problems.  Coach Cobaugh and the defensive staff did a great job of keeping pressure on the qb.

 

 

 

 

4.  Specifically on defense, can you say a little about Ryan Sisco and Alknon Williams?  Both young men came up with big interceptions and played solidly on defense. 

 

Both Ryan and Alknon came up with great plays.  Ryan is now starting to play to his capabilities and just reacting and not thinking.  We feel he is only going to get better.  As for Alknon what can you say about a freshman playing like a senior.  He does things that some upperclassman can’t do.  He reads things and just reacts.  As far as his interception nothing surprises me of what he does.

 

 

 

 

5.  To Somerset, the Golden Eagles got a nice victory Saturday afternoon at Westmont.  What challenges do you think they will give the Trojans come Friday night? 

 

Somerset got a needed win on Saturday and they now have some confidence in what they are doing.  They are a team that does not quit and if you let them hang around they will be tough.  We will once again face a 3-5 and will have to watch the stunts and movement of the d line.  Our O linemen will have to keep their heads up and be sure to keep a helmet on a player.  They also have some size up front and could cause us  some problems.  On offense we must pay attention  to their wing back Dykstra, who is very quick and elusive.  We must play disciplined defense because of the option.  They will not give us many formations to worry about, but if we are not in correct position and playing our proper technique they will cause us problems.

 

 

 

 

Coach's Corner #6
 

1. What a great catch by Richard Agurs in the second half, after starting off the season a little slowly because of injury, he's really come on as of late, can you talk about his contributions on both sides of the ball?

We knew Richard had tremendous abilities, but his injury in the preseason hampered him. He is now getting into playing shape and is playing to his abilities both on offense and defense. We knew for us to be successful this season Richard had to have a big year. He is now on his way to doing what he was always capable of doing.

2. John Siciliano has become a bonafide double threat, both with his arm and his legs. Can you tell us what a great option it is to have a QB that you can do designed runs with and how it really opens up the offense?

John gives us a threat that puts tremendous pressure on defenses. No defense can say if we attack him he is less of a threat and if we sit back he is not a threat. John gets better everyday and now gives Johnstown something they haven’t had in a while a QB that can both run and throw.

3. Quadir Christian continues to step up and take on the role as feature back and he had another 100-yard plus performance against Somerset. Can you talk about, not only the job he's done (unofficially 491 yards through five games, averaging near 100 yards per game) but the job the offensive line has done in the past few weeks?

Quadir is not only a quality running back, he is also a quality young man. He leads not only on the field but in the lockeroom and classroom. He had big shoes to fill for Antwuan Reed and he is doing a great job at filling those shoes. As mentioned 100 yard games are not done by one person. The ones that don’t make the paper are the offensive linemen. They have really done a nice job over the past few weeks. Tony Penna Sr. has really gotten them working as a unit. They take great pride in opening holes or protecting our QB.

4. Another strong performance out of the defense, only giving up one score per half. Anything in particular you can account to this unit's success?

The defense is really taking pride in what they do as a unit. I feel the success is they are having fun in what they do. When the thinking aspect is taken away the players can react to the situations. We also swarm to the ball which limits what other offenses can do. I also feel that we are really starting to punish people with our hitting ability which makes teams slow down a little to avoid collisions.

5. Another blocked kick on the first extra point attempt for Somerset. This is obviously something the team is working on and can be vital in a closer game. On the flip side, we had an extra point blocked so we experienced both sides of this coin on Friday, can you comment both on blocking the kick and having one get blocked and what we can do to continue to have success in the one area and not let the other happen again?

I always said special teams are 1/3 of a teams success. We spend a lot of time in practice on special teams and hopefully the practice time is showing. A blocked kick can be a turning point in a game and we have addressed that so it will not happen again. I feel blocking a kick comes down to wanting to sacrifice your body and we have players that want to make that sacrifice.

6. Moving on to Bishop Carroll, the Huskies look like they're back after suffering two uncharacteristic losing seasons. What can you offer us as keys on both sides of the ball for success in this contest?

Bishop Carroll will provide us another stiff test. Games come down to who is mentally prepared, limits mistakes and penalties. We need to do all of those. BC will be in the wishbone/Broken bone sets. The running back Julock is the premier back. We must once again play position defense to stop the option and dives. They like to run behind the right guard Green who is being courted by some D1 Schools. They don’t seem to put the ball in the air much but do have the capabilities to air it out. Once again we must play sound and smart defense with the Trojan Swarm to the ball. BC will play a 3-5 or 5-2 version on defense. They are very active and will apply a lot of pressure on us. We have to take care of the opportunities they give us and make them pay for any mistakes they make. It becomes very difficult for us because about every team has played something different on D than what we see on tape. Our offense is designed to adapt to what another team gives us.

7. Is there anything special or different you'll do this week in preparation since you have the extra day with the game being on Saturday night?

The extra day of practice is the toughest part for the players which makes it a long week for them. Playing on Saturday is a mind set because of the different routine they will need to follow. I always say football is mental and with the different day for the game the mental aspect will come into play. We bring the players in early to eat and keep it to pretty much the same routing that they normally follow. I also tell them to not stay in bed all day because your body needs to adapt to the change.

8. As you know, the 1958 WPIAL champion Trojans will be honored at this game as it's the 50th anniversary of their amazing season. What lessons can the current player learn from great teams in school history like the '58 and '88 teams when it comes to pride and tradition of the program and just life in general?

As I have always said winning isn’t the main objective in sports for these young people. Being a successful and productive adult is a goal each coach should have. If a player learns at an early age that it is not only important on the field but in the classroom or in public setting. When the mental discipline is set the wins on the field come. I feel this is being shown by the 1958 team because they were both productive on the field and now later in life they are still successful.

 

Coach's Corner #7
 

1. I'll start with the defense this week since they pitched the shutout. I'm not sure if you knew this or not, but it was the first shutout from a Trojan defense since 2004. It seems like the logical progression with the unit from two outstanding performances against Richland and Somerset to this shutout against Bishop Carroll. Can you talk about the performance against BC, a team that showed previously this season that they know how to score points (scoring 40 and 39 points in two of their previous victories)?

When something becomes fun players play harder and I feel our players are having fun and really playing to their potential. Our defense is relatively simple; the players don’t have to think and they are reacting to the situation. We knew all along BC was going to be a good test and once again each player had an assignment to do and they all carried it out.

 

2. Another solid performance from John Siciliano. Although he didn't account for any touchdowns, he did have 80+ yards rushing and had key runs to pick up first downs on more than one occasion. Can you tell us a little about his performance, especially in light of the fact that he was suffering from flu-like symptoms?

John is a dimension I feel every coach wants. He is a player that doesn’t dance when he running. He sees an opening and just flat out runs. Defenses must respect his ability which now opens up areas for other players. John was really spent on Saturday and still turned in a great performance. The true success is the way the offensive line is playing. They are taking great pride in opening holes for the backs.

 

3. Also on offense, I wanted to ask you about the 92-yard drive for the first touchdown. It must give you great confidence that after being pinned deep that you have a unit that has shown the ability to turn around that bad field position. Can you talk a little about that drive and its importance in the win?

We have felt all along that the offense was going to be good, but it was going to take time for players to buy into it. The problem I see is at times we shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties and it causes us problems. The drive number one took time off the clock which helps the defense, but you are right it does give us confidence that we can move the ball any time. I feel the running of John Sicliano and Quadiar Christian were tremendous. Also the catch and run by LaQinn Stephens/Howling getting us a big first down to keep the drive alive. Still at that point it still was a scoreless game and Bishop Carroll had some momentum.

 

4. On to Bishop McCort, now the defense has played exceptional the past few weeks but this will be a great test for them wouldn't you think? I don't think anyone in the LHAC has a tandem of backs as talented as Lowry and Wadley. What can this unit do to step up to the challenge in a rivalry game against a very talented team? I feel D will be the key. We must be able to stop the power game along with the trap. They have had our number over the last seven year with us only winning once. We just have to believe we are the better team and play strong defense and when we have the ball keep it in our hands in order that McCort does not have opportunities. We also must limit mistakes and not have the situations of 2nd or 3rd and long. This is going to be a team effort.

 

 

Coach's Corner #8
 

1. Tough game Friday night obviously, but you can always find something positive, even in the worst of losses. For me, it was seeing the hurry-up offense that was run later in the first half. I thought the team looked very effective in that. Is that something you'd like to see more of in the future? We have worked on the no huddle. We felt the way things were going a change of pace might help. We work on it at practice and it is something we may do more as the season winds down.

 

2. On the defensive side of the ball, one thing that stood out to me was the fact that McCort's skill players were quite adept at blocking down field on some of those end around plays. It's rare for a Johnstown team to get beat on the outside but they seem to have a hat on a hat on all our guys downfield, is this something you noticed and if so, what can be done in the future to prevent it from happening? Bishop McCort beat us in every phase of the game. On defense we waited and when you wait they will be into you. We did not attack the power and that made them look good blocking. Our effort on defense was poor.

 

3. Would you care to comment on anything else on either side of the ball from the McCort game? Bishop McCort is a good football team, but I feel our best effort was not given. As we watched the tape we did not tackle well, did not attack on defense and basically watched things happen on both offense and defense. As the head coach I take the blame for not having the players ready. Giving up two scores on offense does not help the cause, but some luck in the bounces came McCort’s way.

 

4. Great news last week out of Trojanland that David Istanich will be continuing his playing career at the next level at Florida International. To me, Dave is an example of a great role model for a lot of the younger kids in the area as he gets it done both on the field and more importantly, in the classroom. Also, can you talk about the positive light this continues to put on the program, that's four guys in four years going to D1 programs (LaRod Stephens-Howling, Scott Corson, and Antwuan Reed being the others)? Coach Arcurio started the D1 connections and our job is to carry on what he started. We always tell our players that if you work hard on and off the field(in the classroom) good things will happen. Dave is a player that a coach can be very proud of. He works hard on and off the field. He is a player that is respected on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Any college program would be proud to have him on board. Florida International is getting a fine young man who is going to carry the JHS tradition on.

 

5. Moving on, to Cambria Heights and what on paper is an obvious win. However, this is the type of game that can be a pitfall as you run the risk of looking past the week at hand. What can you do to stress the importance of taking it one at a time? Also, what can we expect to see on both sides of the ball from Coach Myers' club? We need to bounce back from a poor performance last week . We have stressed that we can be a number 2 seed in the playoffs if we win out. That would mean a home playoff game which is very important. I have told them it is now a 3 game season for the playoffs. Cambria Heights is not a bad football team. They are like any other team if you leave them hang around or get excited they will present a challenge. They have nothing to lose and if they upset us it will make their season. On offense they will either be in the I or shot gun. Priester is the top back and we need to contain him. On defense they have shown the 3-5, but as I have said in the past a lot of teams change how they normally play on D and we need to adjust to what they give us.

 

Coach's Corner #9
 

1. It looked like Ryan Sisco had another nice game, picking off a pass, making a few big tackles (one on a kick return, the other on a big run) that may have saved touchdowns and at the least saved bigger gains. He ran from the opposite side of the field on the tackle on the run. It also appeared that he got some reps on offense, both at wideout and fullback if I'm not mistaken. Can you talk about his performance Friday night as he seems to be one of those "unsung heroes" kind of players for the team this year? Ryan has really come on in the last few games. If I had to name an unselfish player who would do anything to make the team better it would be Ryan. Not only is he doing it on offense and defense, he has been doing it on special teams. On Friday we played him in some different positions. He made a key block on a run from the fullback position and for the block that is why he got the ball down close for his touchdown. The staff and I are really proud of the way he is playing. We knew all along he had that potential.

 

2. I normally don't ask you to critique the other team after the game, but I wondered if you could give a few thoughts on Vescovi, Priester and Stanek? I was very impressed with these players on the offensive side of the ball. Cambria Heights doesn't really seem like a typical one-win club because they have that talent level. Vescovi looked really poised back there at QB for just a sophomore, hopefully Coach Myers can keep the program moving in the right direction. First of all I think Coach Myers is doing a great job with the team. They do have the talent of the three mentioned players, but our league is very difficult to build a program. When teams lose year in and year out the confidence level of players become very weak and they always have a doubt factor.

 

 

3. Let's move on to the current week's opponent in Bishop Guilfoyle. Chris Brown appears on tape at least to be a talented QB and he has some legitmate weapons. What will you have to do defensively to stop them? How about when they are on defense? What looks, formations, sets, etc are you preparing for? They are going to be very tough. They don’t look big but they will come at you. On offense they will run various formations from the spread, shotgun, I, wing T look. The QB is very talented and we will have to apply pressure or he will have a field day. On Defense they will vary between a 4-5-6. We really don’t know what they will do against the spread so as always we will have to adapt on the fly.

4. Last but not least, with it being senior night I was wondering if you could give a real short comment on each of the seniors on the roster this year (photos provided by Burns Photography by Roger Kerekes):

Carlton Wyatt: Is a huge target that works hard. Has the ability to play at the next level.

Jon Maurizio: Was a tremendous weapon for us with punting and kicking.

Eric Salazar: Worked hard and helped in the secondary. Played through injuries.

Quadir Christian: Was a real leader for us. Always positive and will be able to play at the next level.

Scott Hughes: First year out and helped tremendously on the scout teams.

John Sweet: A very hard worker who was a very steady linebacker for us.

William Claar: Gave all he had every play. Played both on offense and defense.

James Haggerty: A steady player who started two years at center and also did our long snapping.

David Istanich: A true leader who lead by example and will make Florida International proud.

Ray Michael Howell: A player who never missed a practice and always was a positive player.

Adam Lechak: Split time between fall baseball and football worked his way onto special teams.

London Jefferson: First year player who helped on the scout teams.

Demetrius Smith: First year out who always worked hard in practice.

Vaughn Miller: Was injured all year who would have given us help on the offensive line.

 

Coach's Corner #10
 

1. What a great senior night for David Istanich! He plays well on both sides of the ball and to top it all off, he gets the interception near the end of the game. What a way to top off his final regular season performance. It's always neat to see the big guys make a play like that, can you talk about that interception and just what was going through your mind when you saw the play?

Dave does so many great things for us that the interception was just icing on the cake for the type of senior year and also football career he has had. When I looked up I could not believe that it was Dave that made the interception. In a way I was hoping that he could return it all the way. I have said this before that Florida International is getting a special person.

2. I would like to hear your thoughts on the continued development of John Siciliano. Two of his three rushing touchdowns looked to be off traditional option action type plays from under center. Is that something you'd like to see continue with? He also ran the no-huddle again nicely at the end of the first half once again.

John gets better each week and is what I call a football junkie. He worked very hard in the offseason to become the best he could be. At the end of last year when we finished against PC he made the statement this would be the last game he will stand on the sidelines. John is to the point now that he can run what we ask him to do.

3. Can you speak about the offensive line as a unit? When a team has two runners, in this case the quarterback and tailback, with over 100 yards they cannot do it alone. Also, do you feel the unit takes pride in getting Quadir over the 1,000-yard mark on the season?

The offensive line was a key coming into the season. This was our veteran unit, but was not healthy all year. As you know the O line does not get recognized as far as scoring touchdowns, but they take pride in opening holes for the backs. This unit is also very intelligent in the fact of always trying to analyze what a team is trying to do. At the end of the game Quadir came and thanked the O line for all of their work to get him the 1000 yards.

4. Defensively, the team got after the quarterback, sacking Brown six times, including two by Tyler Boyd in one series. Overall how did you feel this unit did and were there times that you had a 3-5 look going on out there Friday? Something looked a little different at times.

When we break teams down we look at what they do best and try and take that away. We felt the real key to BG was to put pressure on Brown and we gave them some different looks in order to try and confuse the QB. The defense did play well other than some missed tackles. Coach Cobaugh does a great job in finding ways to create pressure.

5. Rough game on the Special Teams end of things for you guys. One PAT blocked and the other one that was missed appeared to be rushed because of pressure. More importantly though, the BG return game brought a kickoff back and returned a few others pretty deep. Was that just a matter of execution and discipline or are you also evaluating the unit to make sure you have the right guys out there?

With the talent Penn Cambria has in the return game I'm sure you want to get this fixed as soon as possible. I was very disappointed in the way we covered kicks on Friday, but we had some different players on the kick coverage team. We watched the tape and found some players were not getting to the proper lanes which caused the seams on the kickoff. Overall the special teams have played well throughout the season. We take pride in our unit and hopefully we will not make the mistakes we did on Friday. To be successful in the playoff we must play well on special teams.

6. To the positive on the Special Teams and that you had two blocked extra point, a long field goal from Jon and a nifty return on a reverse on the opening kickoff from Jordan. Despite a rocky game coverage wise, how do you feel your Special Teams units have done, not just for this contest, but on the season?

We take great pride in our special teams and spend a lot of time in practice with them. Overall we have been pretty solid in the special teams department. As a coaching staff we are pleased, but not satisfied. Special teams are 1/3 of the game so we must continue to play solid in that phase.

7. Finally to Penn Cambria, Zak Newton is the leading rusher in the LHAC and appears to be quite the threat both as a runner and he's played a little quarterback. However, they have some other very talented athletes in Glenn and Gallagher. What do you think are some keys to a Trojan victory Friday night in Cresson?

I feel to stop Penn Cambria we must be able to stop Zak Newton. He is a very talented runner and is the go to guy. I feel Coach Fetzer is one of the best coaches in the area and he will find ways to get Newton yards. The main stay of being successful is not to get caught up in all the shifting that PC will do. We can’t get caught moving around with all the shifting. We feel they are pretty talented on offense and we must not be caught looking ahead to the playoffs.

 

Coach's Corner #11
 

1.  Can you talk about the importance of turnovers in the Penn Cambria win?  The Panthers fumbled five times, and I feel that Johnstown is way too good of a squad to spot them those in the giveaway/takeaway game. 

 

The turnovers were the turning point in the game.  I feel the first one when PC was driving was crucial because at that point we were flat and they were driving for a TD.  No matter what type of a team you are, turnovers will hurt you.  Those are things as a coach that you cannot control.  In this game the turnovers went in our favor.

 

2.  Would you comment on the leadership of the team, especially the offense, in light of Quadir's absence?  Not only the John have a great game at quarterback but he shared the wealth, hitting a different Trojan on each of his three touchdowns.  How big was it that despite entering the game with arguably your best offensive player not in action you were able to get a 100-yard rusher (John) and the other skill players stepped it up big time? 

 

John has become a well rounded QB and is leading by example and just making things happen.  Each player is playing a leader type role on the team and are starting to buy into whatever it takes to win they will do.  Success is doing the little things well and putting the personal goals aside and just feeling like what can I do to make this team successful.

 

3.  Can you talk, again about your offensive line?  They were asked to pass block more in this contest than in the past?  How did you feel they performed as a unit and did anyone in particular stand out? 

 

The offensive line is the key to any teams success.  We have a unit that takes great pride in what they do.  As you know this was our strong point coming into the season.  The linemen all lifted together in the off season and they have found a trust in one another. 

 

4.  I have to ask about a few negatives:  we knew Zak Newton was talented but he gained nearly 300 yards on the ground, obviously something you don't want to see happen.  Was there anything to that or do you chalk it up to a line and back just having a great game?  Also, some Special Teams issues continued as you had a blocked field goal returned for a TD as well as some pressure on another extra point.  Is still a concern/question mark going into the playoffs? 

 

We knew Newton was a great back.  I was not happy with him gaining that many yards, but sometimes good backs make you look bad.  We also did not do some things on defense that left some huge holes for him to run through.  On special teams some players blocked out instead of sealing the inside and that left holes for players to come through and block or put pressure on the kicker.

 

5.  Moving on, what can you tell us about Indian Valley?  What kind of challenges will the Trojans face Friday night?  Also, can you speak about the fact of playing a home game in the playoffs?  I don't think I'm overstating that this is a HUGE plus to be playing a postseason game in your home venue and not have to travel, especially the distance you would have to travel to play at an Indian Valley?

 

Indian Valley will be a huge test for us.  Their record of 4-6 is no longer there because both teams are 0-0 since it is the playoffs.  They are also the defending D-6 champs which gives them a lot of incentive to play hard.  It is hard to gauge them because I have only seen them on tape, but the people that have seen them in person said they are a lot like PC.  They will keep coming at you and won’t quit.  We have seen various formations from the bunch to the spread.  The backs seem to have decent speed and the QB can throw.  The receivers will go after the ball when it is in the air.  I was also impressed with the down field blocking of the receivers.  On Defense we have seen the 3-4 to 40 and 60 fronts.  The true key will be to control the ball, not make mistakes and just capitalize on anything they give us.  As far as playing at home it is somewhat of an advantage in the fact that we will not have the long bus ride.  We will need to stay focused and play hard every snap.  This is survival if we want to continue the season.

 

 

 

Coach's Corner #12
 

1.  Can you talk a little about your defense and their performance against Indian Valley?  Three interceptions, including one taken back for a touchdown is something you'd probably take any week but also holding them to under 100 yards and not letting one back 100 yards (overall they had 165 yards) is nothing to be ashamed of either. 

 

The defense is really starting to play well.  Each player is learning that they all have a job and if they all do it we can be successful.  Coach Cobaugh does a great job week in and week out coming up with different ways to get every player involved.

 

 

2.  Offensively, there was a nice balance between the run and pass at least from a yardage standpoint (115 passing vs. 141 rushing), it must be nice, once again, to have a well rounded effort from the group especially in light of Quadir being held to under 100 yards.  Your thoughts? 

 

I feel for any team to be successful you must have a balanced attack.  No team can come in and say if you stop the run you can beat JHS or if you stop the pass you can beat them.  I feel we give our opponents a lot to think about and prepare for.

 

 

3.  On to the task at hand and Hollidaysburg and the district championship game.  First of all, to the on-the-field issues and what challenges do the Golden Tigers bring on both sides of the ball?  Secondly, going into this game as the underdog, will you play that up with the team and take a "we-have-nothing-to-lose" type approach and play a little more loose this week?  It seemed like the opposite was in effect this past Friday as we were the clear favorite and IV came in with no pressure.  Coming into the game with a nine-game winning streak, the pressure seemingly could be on them because on paper, they feel they are "supposed to win".  Any thoughts on those angles? 

 

I always like being the underdog because it is a nothing to lose type game.  I did feel we had a case of the nerves on Friday.  All along I felt once we settled down we would be fine.  As for Hollidaysburg they are a very good football team.  They have good size and speed.  On offense they are similar to Richland in the approach of a no huddle spread type team.  On defense they will play a 33 type defense.  They don’t bring a lot of pressure, but that is not to say that they will bring pressure to us.  I guess it is what I have said all season we will have to adapt to what they give us.

 

 

4.  Obviously, first and foremost the task at hand and winning the game in the main priority, but I have to ask if you have any thoughts on this game insofar as if the Trojans win it is the 600th win in program history?  You used the phrase "the icing on the cake" and I really think that would be appropriate here.  A program with so much history as Johnstown, it would just be that much historic if this monumental win would also be coupled with a district title. 

 

It would be a great feat to not only bring home the district title, but also win the 600th game in JHS history.  I am honored to be the coach of such a great school.  All I can really say is our players and coaches will do our best to represent the history of JHS on Friday.

 

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