Chartiers-Houston hopes to turn hours in weight room into wins on field

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023 | 11:00 PM


Chartiers-Houston lineman Jack Heiser knows the Buccaneers are equipped to keep moving forward this season. Up and down the roster, Chartiers-Houston has been building strength to push forward.

The Buccaneers slipped back to the pack last season, compiling a 5-5 overall record, which included a 2-5 mark in the Black Hills Conference. Chartiers-Houston is hoping that being stronger will help the team get back to the postseason.

“We all came together and have three linemen squatting over 450,” Heiser said. “They are benching 350 pounds. We’ve been pumping iron. Even the skill guys are doing 225 for 10 reps.”

Starting with strength up front will be vital for Chartiers-Houston, which lost a lot of production to graduation. Heiser will be joined by Trevor Popek and Paul Williamson on the line.

The Buccaneers’ offensive line is hoping to establish the team’s identity. Chartiers-Houston will look to open holes for sophomore running back Zeke Watkins. Watkins averaged 6.1 yards per carry as a freshman before going out with an injury.

“We want to run the ball down everyone’s throats,” Heiser said. “We want to do everything possible to win games on both sides of the ball. Everyone on the team is gritty. Some teams are taller and faster, but we will bring it against anyone.”

When the Buccaneers open the season Aug. 25 hosting Jefferson-Morgan, they will be looking to fill in a lot of spots at the skill positions.

Quarterback Terry Fetsko, who passed for 1,229 yards last season, graduated, and Chartiers-Houston also saw its leading receiver, Jake Mele, and rusher, Jessie Orbin, graduate.

“It’s a younger group,” coach Terry Fetsko said. “We did lose a decent amount of seniors. We have a group of kids who are fighting for their positions. They are young and coachable. I think we have a chance to be good. I don’t know if teams are going to see that coming.”

The Buccaneers hadn’t settled on a starting quarterback in camp. Chartiers-Houston was having a competition that featured senior Jack Lochran and sophomore Aaron Walsh. Each has different skillset that could help the program.

“Jack’s a little bigger and has a stronger arm,” Fetsko said. “Aaron is more athletic when things break down in the pocket. We haven’t made a decision yet, but both will play this season.”

Chartiers-Houston will also see Anthony Romano (WR) and Nate Brezinski (WR/DB) make an impact in the passing game.

Fetsko said the key to Chartiers-Houston’s success could depend on how the season starts. The Buccaneers hope early victories can help a young lineup can get out of the blocks well.

“You have to simplify things until they master it,” Fetsko said. “Starting with a couple of wins early is important. If we get one or two wins out of the first three games, our confidence will springboard.”

Chartiers-Houston

Coach: Terry Fetsko

2022 record: 5-5, 2-5 in Class A Black Hills Conference

All-time record: 385-371-18

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.25 Jefferson-Morgan, 7

9.1 West Greene, 7

9.8 at Carmichaels, 7

9.15 Fort Cherry*, 7

9.22 at Burgettstown*, 7

9.30 at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart*, 7

10.6 Carlynton*, 7

10.14 at Bishop Canevin*, 7

10.20 Cornell*, 7

10.27 at Avella*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Terry Fetsko

111-196, 1,229 yards, 13 TDs

Rushing: Jessie Orbin

139-618 yards

Receiving: Jake Mele

62-724 yards

FAST FACTS

• Terry Fetsko is in his 19th year as Chartiers-Houston’s head coach.

• The Buccaneers last made the playoffs when they were in Class 2A in 2021.

• Chartiers-Houston’s leading returning passer, Jack Lochran, only attempted two passes as a backup last season.

• The Buccaneers started 3-0 last season.

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