Monday, August 4, 2014

Notes on Peters Township football as 2014 approaches

Marcus Ubinger
Peters Township has often been the victim of a tough regular season schedule. Playing in the toughest conference in Quad-A will have that effect, but the Indians are ready to embark on a potential landmark season in 2014.

Having one of the best quarterbacks in the state will aid that pursuit. Cory Owen has progressed significantly since his freshman season and has the intangibles to make those around him better. While a player like that is a significant piece for a team in the Southeastern Conference, many question marks surround Peters Township.

The team lost 22 starters and head coach Rich Piccinini is ready to put his new pieces to the test.

"That’s high school football," Piccinini said of the roster turnover. "That is a large number, especially when the majority are offensive linemen and at tight end, but you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt. We have some big, young kids. The only way to handle it is throw them in there and we watch them improve every week. There’s nothing more you can do beside putting them in, teaching them their assignments and watching them grow."

Wide receivers: Much can be made of the Indians losing Owen's top weapons from 2013, but two seniors are ready to take over as the top targets on offense.

Tim Swoope and Connor Freely will be the team's top wide outs. Both are tremendous athletes over multiple sports and possess the size to create match up problems for opposing defenses. The bigger question mark is at tight end where Max Augenstein was lost to graduation.

Owen believes his chemistry with the new starters is almost ready for opening night against Woodland Hills.

"Throughout plays and all of the 7-on-7’s over the summer, I think the patterns and all of that stuff will be ready by the season, if it isn’t right now," Owen said. "It’s there, but there are a couple things we need to glitch, the receivers need to glitch and I need to glitch. It’s all about improving."

Running back: Marcus Ubinger is gone and sophomore TJ Kpan steps in as the Indians' primary tailback. The offense is run-heavy and will rely on the young talent's ability to stretch the field. Kpan runs a 4.5 second 40-yard dash and benches over 300 pounds.

Kpan played sparingly as a freshman and is ready for taking the next step in Quad-A's most storied conference.

"I’m just here to play," Kpan said. "I’m  very excited and I feel like I’m very blessed to be given this opportunity. There aren’t many kids who get the opportunity as a freshman to come up and as a sophomore to be playing."

His combination of strength and quickness will be a perfect compliment to Owen, who will be asked to run the ball in spread situations. Kpan will also play defensive back and is primed for success on offense if the team's biggest wild card pans out.

Offensive line: Of the 22 starters the team lost from 2013, only Christian Phelps remains on the offensive and defensive lines. Peters Township will turn to underclassmen to block for its high-powered offense.

Camp does not start until next week so potential replacements are far from being sorted out, but Peters Township is confident in the group competing for spots on the offensive and defensive lines.

Piccinini is aware that an offense relying on the running game needs a steady offensive line to have success in Quad-A.

"We run the ball the majority of the game," Piccinini said. "It does set up our passing game. We run, run, run. If we are moving the ball, we'll run all game. I don't care how often we pass and most importantly, (Owen) doesn't care how often we pass. All that matters is winning games."

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