Bishop Canevin aims to resume winning tradition

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | 6:02 PM


Outside of the locker room at Bishop Canevin, there is a plaque that honors legendary coach Bob Jacoby. The quote on it features six words that showcase what he demanded from his teams: “48 minutes of tough Canevin football.”

First-year Crusaders coach T.J. Wiley wants to bring that mentality back to the program.

“We want to carry on the tradition for all the players who wore the double blue,” Wiley said. “Canevin was in the WPIAL quarterfinals in 2016. That isn’t that long ago.

“The team has had two down seasons, and we think some people forgot about us.”

Wiley previously coached Vincentian Academy, Northgate, Deer Lakes and Penn-Trafford. He is Canevin’s third head coach in as many seasons.

While the Crusaders are young, they feature talent across the field.

Willie Banks-Hicks appears to be the heir of the quarterback position. The sophomore led the team in receiving yards last season.

“He looks the part,” Wiley said. “He’s raw because he didn’t get many reps at quarterback last season.”

Junior Jordan Ruffing has also shown the ability to throw the ball. But his other skills have him slotted in at tight end and linebacker.

Keshawn Harris should be a focal point of the offense. The sophomore led the Crusaders in rushing yards with 678, and he had eight touchdowns a year ago. Freshman Xavier Nelson could get some carries and be a presence at receiver. Senior Luke Fabric and freshman Andrew Jones will both see the field on offense.

The Crusaders offense averaged only 13.5 points last season. Wiley’s father, John, is the team’s new offensive coordinator. John Wiley is a coaching veteran and a PSFCA Hall of Fame inductee.

The line has a rotation of eight to nine players. Ajay Cirilli is the team’s center. The 6-foot-4, 320-pound senior gained praise from Wiley for his leadership and dedication.

“He has unbelievable feet for how big he is,” Wiley said. “He has been here since the first day in the weight room. He is a leader of this team. He has been rallying the guys.”

Juniors Carmen Worrall (6-1, 215) and Collin Milko (5-10, 180) also will have an impact on the line. While the line might not be as big as in past seasons, Canevin’s focused on putting more athletic players in the trenches.

“We lost a lot of size and three of the five starters,” Cirilli said. “But I’d say we have a lot of heart (and speed) with the young line this year.”

Canevin’s defense will look for improvement this season. The Crusaders surrendered 36.5 points per game last season. That was the fifth-highest average in Class A. The defense will use a 4-4 formation.

Despite turnover in the staff and the lineup, the Crusaders are ready to silence the doubters.

“Honestly, (our goals are) a winning season and proving people wrong who’re doubting us,” Cirilli said.

Schedule

Coach: T.J. Wiley

2018 record: 3-7, 1-6

All-time record: 300-271-12

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, at Carlynton, 7

8.30, at Avella, 7

9.7, Laurel*+, 7

9.14, Springdale+, 7

9.21, OLSH*+, 7

9.27, at Union*, 7

10.5, Cornell*+, 7

10.11, at Sto-Rox*, 7

10.19, Northgate*+, 7

10.25, at Rochester*, 7:30

*Class A Big 7 Conference game

+At Dormont Stadium

Statistical leaders

Passing: Jon Ruffing*

44-105, 612 yards, 5 TDs

Receiving: Willie Banks-Hicks

19-177 yards, 2 TDs

Rushing: Keshawn Harris

109-678 yards, 8 TDs

*Graduated

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