East Allegheny hopeful for playoff 3-peat

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Monday, August 19, 2019 | 10:50 AM


East Allegheny was a spectator of the WPIAL football playoffs from 2012 to ‘15.

The Wildcats turned the tide and have enjoyed postseason trips the past three years, including a trip to the Class 2A quarterfinals in 2017.

It might not sound like much, but EA finishing fourth in the Allegheny Conference last year marked the first time in school history the Wildcats earned a playoff berth for three straight seasons.

“The 2018 season was great,” East Allegheny coach Dom Pecora said. “We lost a lot of seniors in the 2017 class but still made the playoffs for the third year in a row.”

Pecora has been the Wildcats coach for six years, and he hopes to set another record in an effort to keep the current run of success continuing this fall.

“What we need to do to build from last season is get all of our kids on defense ready to go,” Pecora said. “We are very young everywhere, particularly on defense.”

How young are these Wildcats?

They return only two starters on defense and five on offense, but Pecora doesn’t see that as a weakness.

“The thing I am most excited about heading into camp is that we have the best group of underclassmen I have ever had,” he said. “I can’t wait to work with them.”

East Allegheny will need to replace Daniel Kasmier at quarterback. He led the Wildcats in passing with 1,189 yards on 81 completions and 13 touchdown tosses, but he was also the team’s leading rusher with 468 yards on 74 carries and 10 touchdowns in what was a balanced running attack.

Some of the new faces hoping to fill those voids are senior Johnny Moritz and sophomores Mikey Smith, Mekai Mitchell and Allen Freeman.

Fortunately for EA, senior wide receiver Tyler Padezan returns.

Padezan led the team last season with 33 receptions for 674 yards. He also had six touchdowns.

“Our best returning player is Tyler Padezan,” Pecora said. “He has (several) Division I-AA scholarship offers. He’s the best leader I have ever coached.”

Padezan has offers from Albany, Rhode Island, William & Mary, Duquesne and St. Francis (Pa), among others.

“We’ve been working hard all summer,” Padezan said. “I’m excited for our season to start. I think we have a lot to prove this year, and I think as the season progresses, we’ll receive more recognition.”

It will be interesting to watch how Class 2A unfolds. In what has been a predictable classification in the past, all four conferences appear to have good balance, although like most coaches, Pecora is a biased toward the strength of his team’s conference.

“The Allegheny Conference is by far the best in Double A, just like it was last year,” Pecora said. “We have a very tough schedule. I’ve always felt top to bottom, Double A is the best classification.”

Padezan was asked if he felt any added pressure being a senior leader on a team full of young, inexperienced talent.

“The younger guys have been working hard, so I think they’ll be great,” he said. “Plus, we have a few new additions. There’s not really too much pressure.”

Schedule

Coach: Dom Pecora

2018 record: 6-5, 3-3

All-time record: 304-243-23

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, Jeannette, 7

8.30, Steel Valley*, 7

9.6, at South Allegheny, 7

9.13, Apollo-Ridge*, 7

9.20, Summit Academy*, 7

9.27, at Carmichaels, 7

10.4, at Beth-Center, 7

10.11, Avonworth*, 7

10.18, Shady Side Academy*, 7

10.25, at Valley*, 7

*Class 2A Allegheny Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Daniel Kasmier*

81-131, 1,189 yards, 13 TDs

Rushing: Kasmier*

74-468 yards, 10 TDs

Receiving: Tyler Padezan

33-674 yards, 6 TDs

*Graduated

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