After close call, Frazier motivated to claim playoff spot
Thursday, August 26, 2021 | 6:00 PM
As the 2020 football season unfolded, the Frazier Commodores found themselves wondering what each week would hold.
The coronavirus restrictions that limited offseason workouts and forced game cancellations across the state had a profound negative impact on many teams trying to plow their way through a disjointed season.
The Commodores were able to get in seven games, despite the threat of covid-19 causing havoc at any moment. Frazier dealt with that threat all season, and they also dealt with a number of key injuries. Yet through it all, the Commodores managed to post a winning record of 4-3.
Much of that success can be attributed to a strong group of upperclassmen, 13 of whom have graduated, including All-Century Conference standouts Kenny Fine and Luke Santo.
“I’ve know that group of kids since their first year of baseball, first year of wrestling and first year of football,” Frazier coach Greg Boggs said, noting that he has coached many within the 2021 senior class since they were 5 or 6 years old. “They are a great group of kids and some of the nicest I’ve been around.”
The Commodores overcame covid restrictions and key injuries to finish in third place in the Class 2A Century Conference. Unfortunately, only the top two teams were accepted into the WPIAL playoffs.
However, this season, the top four teams will qualify for the postseason.
And even though the team lost a lot of players, the Commodores also have a number of players back, and the roster is highlighted by 12 seniors.
“I consider them part of that great group, not just the 13 that we lost,” Boggs said. “Those kids all did an awesome job (last year). It was a tough situation, but they made the most of it.”
Frazier had to deal with some adversity right out of the gate as starting quarterback Brayden Boggs went down with a serious knee injury in the second game of the season. He missed the remainder of the season.
Now healthy once again, Brayden Boggs is anxious to lead the Commodores under center during his senior season.
“He tore multiple knee ligaments, and he was off to a great start,” Greg Boggs said of his son’s injury in 2020. “He didn’t have to come back (this season), but he loves to play the game. Coming off a major injury is always a concern, but I think he had the chance to see how much he missed it. He missed the Friday nights and being in the locker room. I know he’s looking forward to coming back.”
When Brayden Boggs went down last season, Dom Dorcon filled in admirably and would be considered the backup QB again this season.
But if Brayden Boggs can return to his position as the starting quarterback, Dorcon, a senior, will switch to wide receiver.
Dorcon will be a part of a group of pass-catchers that include seniors Isaac Thomas and Jake Thomas as well as junior Keyshaun Thompson and freshman Andrew Bandish.
In the backfield, look for sophomore Domenic Taranto to get a long look, along with senior Zane Whitehead.
“We’ll have lots of speed at the running back position,” Greg Boggs said.
Junior Jeremiah Oldham will be utilized as a fullback when the situation dictates the need for a power running game.
Several players are switching positions, and one of them is senior Anthony Muccioli.
“He’s moving from wide receiver to tight end and he’s been looking good,” Greg Boggs said.
While there are plenty of moving parts within the Frazier offense, one relative constant will be the offensive line. Senior Nicolas Vitale will be a three-year returning starter at center.
He’ll be flanked by a pair of four-year starters in seniors Aaron Panepinto and Brayden Baccino.
“We come into this season with some decent experience (on the offensive line),” Greg Boggs said. “It’s going to be a strength.”
The offensive line will also have some depth as senior Nathan Dale, junior Jaedyn Marish and sophomore Lucas Stevens will also compete for playing time in the trenches.
Also expected to be a strength is the Commodores’ group of linebackers. Leading the way will be Brayden Baccino and Panepinto. Each will be patrolling as middle linebackers.
“Aaron has always been a technique guy and he executes and is very experienced,” Greg Boggs said. “Brayden is a thumper. He is a smart player and he is very aggressive.”
On the outside, Dorcon will hold down a spot, as will Muccioli, who is making the switch from cornerback.
Senior Shayne McQuillis will also see time as a linebacker.
While the linebackers will be a strength, the defensive line is a bit of a question mark.
“We lost some seniors in that group and we need to find out who is going to jump up (and fill those spots),” Greg Boggs said. “We’re looking for guys to make it so that we can’t take them off the field. We want to see who is going to step up and make us better.”
Taranto, Oldham and senior Tristen Scott are candidates to play at defensive end with Dale, Marish, Vitale and Stevens all emerging as possible players to line up at defensive tackle.
In the secondary, look for Thompson to make the move from cornerback to safety. Whitehead and Bandish could also slot in at corner with Isaac Thomas, Jake Thomas and freshman Dailan McManus showing the ability to play either cornerback or safety.
In terms of special teams, the Commodores will look to Scott to handle the kicking and punting duties.
Last year, the Commodores finished the season by winning three of their final four conference games.
However, they just couldn’t overtake section champion McGuffey and section runner-up Washington for one of those two coveted playoff positions.
“We had a tough schedule last year and the kids responded well, and it’s a matter of doing it again this year,” Greg Boggs said of a season in which the Commodores outscored their opponents 145-140. “McGuffey and Washington are always tough, but winning is contagious and we want the kids to know what it takes.
“You don’t win games just on Friday night. You win Monday through Thursday and in the offseason. We want to have a winning season, make the playoffs and try to knock down Washington and McGuffey. Every game is important.”
To that end, Frazier’s offseason work has been impressive. Greg Boggs noted that many of the kids have put a lot of time and energy into getting better, and that starts in the weight room.
“We were off to a good start (in the weight room) last year, and then we had the shutdown with covid,” Greg Boggs said. “This year, we’ve picked it up and we’ll go into this season as strong as we’ve been.”
Greg Boggs reported that a number of the kids can now routinely bench 250 pounds.
“I think the kids have made great gains (in the weight room) and I’m pretty excited about it,” Greg Boggs said.
Coach: Greg Boggs
2020 record: 4-3, 4-2 in Class 2A Century Conference
All-time record: 339-440-16
Date, Opponent, Time
8.28 at Bishop Canevin, 12
9.3 at Brentwood, 7
9.10 Bentworth, 7
9.17 at Ligonier Valley, 7
9.24 McGuffey*, 7
10.1 at Waynesburg*, 7
10.8 Chartiers-Houston*, 7
10.15 at Beth-Center*, 7
10.22 Washington*, 7
10.29 at Charleroi*, 7
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