Greensburg Salem football faces rugged regular-season schedule

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Monday, August 12, 2019 | 9:14 PM


High school football training camps officially began Monday, but for Greensburg Salem’s Golden Lions, the season started the minute the 2018 campaign concluded with a first-round WPIAL playoff loss to South Fayette.

It was the Lions’ first postseason appearance in seven years, and they’re hungry to extend this year’s season even longer.

But, first things first. They will need to successfully navigate through another tough regular-season schedule.

“It feels great coming back with a group of guys that we had some success with last year,” said senior quarterback Trent Patrick, who guided Greensburg Salem to a 4-3 record in the Class 4A Big Eight Conference last season.

The dynamic Patrick combined for 1,417 yards of offense (1,010 passing, 407 rushing on a team-high 109 carries). But even so, the Golden Lions were no match in the playoffs for eventual WPIAL champion South Fayette, losing, 42-6.

Yet, the experience of a winning conference season — Greensburg Salem is hoping to improve overall on a 4-7 record — will carry over to what Patrick and the Golden Lions believe can be a better time this year.

“We had some success on both sides of the ball last year,” Patrick said. “We have that level of confidence on defense, where we made some plays and got out of some tough games, and that can translate to this season, where we can do the same thing.

“We just need to get better day by day.”

Greensburg Salem will open the season Aug. 23 at Class 6A arch-rival Hempfield, which held on last season for a 27-24 victory at Offutt Field in Greensburg.

The Golden Lions’ first Big Eight game comes Aug. 30 at Trinity.

After a pair of nonconference games Sept. 6 at Mars and Sept. 13 at home against South Fayette, Greensburg Salem plays out the regular-season schedule against six more conference opponents, beginning Sept. 20 at Laurel Highlands.

“You truly cannot look down the road,” Greensburg Salem coach Dave Keefer said. “You have to win games when you have the opportunity to win. Injuries can always come into play. The keys are staying healthy and how our offensive and defensive lines play.”

Counting the 5-foot-10, 220-pound Patrick, who is attracting interest from colleges for football and wrestling, Greensburg Salem welcomed back to training camp 12 seniors and 10 juniors.

“We’ve got a number of guys coming back on the lines,” Keefer said.

Among them are Billy McChesney and Collin Pasko, a pair of guards/defensive linemen, as well as guard/tackle Joe Gongaware and tackles Matt Metrosky and Thomas Glunt.

Wide receiver/linebacker Cavan Trout and tight end-wide receiver/linebacker Ryan Thomas also are among the returnees, each drawing interest from FCS Patriot League schools along with various ones at the Division II level.

While Patrick has been impressed early on with the Golden Lions’ defense, he sees the offense also making strides.

“With the offense we have coming back,” he said, “we’re pretty confident what we can do, how we can run our routes, work our plays the way we want to work them. It just kind of translates to that confidence level that we have some returning guys, some guys that are going to be good for us.

“That gives us a solid offense.”

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