H.S. football notebook: Derry’s backup plan working out at QB

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | 4:28 PM


When Paul Koontz, a senior who has proven himself as the starting quarterback at Derry, went down with a season-ending knee injury, the Trojans did not panic.

Koontz was a third-year starter.

But first-year coach Vince Skillings knew he had a formidable backup waiting in the wings in senior Nick Detore. In fact, Skillings used both quarterbacks in the season opener against North Catholic, when Derry lost 55-7.

When Koontz was injured and ruled out, Detore took over. He helped the Trojans rebound with a 31-7 win at Deer Lakes.

Detore threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Matt McDowell, who also was considered to play quarterback. Skillings talked about using all three players under center.

Losing Koontz limits the Trojans’ play-action game, but Detore gives them another running threat.

“That’s a tough blow because he gives us a 1-2 punch at the Q,” Skillings said of Koontz. “He knows the entire offense and every player’s role in it and runs it very well.

“Nick’s athleticism is ideal for the offense we run, and he has enough arm strength to keep secondaries on their toes. Nevertheless, we have to get someone ready as the ‘Next Man Up’ at quarterback.”

Skillings said McDowell and Zack Revoir would be next in line to play quarterback. He said Koontz will remain valuable as a “player coach.”

“His knowledge of our system offensively and defensively will be helpful in coaching up the quarterbacks and defensive backs as they come off the field,” the coach said.

Skillings continues to learn about his team each day and is glad there are at least five more games to keep improving.

“The team seems to have bought into what we’re trying to do and has been working hard to become more disciplined and fundamentally sound,” he said. “We’ve been pushing that from Day 1 and will continue to do so.”

Giansante back on market

Norwin senior lineman Anthony Giansante is no longer committed to Western Kentucky. The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder, who was recruited as an offensive guard, said WKU made the decision to not bring in any high school offensive linemen this year.

He said he was told the program is focusing solely on junior college players and transfers.

As a result, Giansante said his recruitment is “100 percent open.”

The WKU football office could not be reached for comment.

Before he verbally committed in late June, Giansante also had nine FCS offers, including Sacred Heart, Dartmouth, Bryant, Columbia, Brown, Penn, Fordham, Monmouth and VMI.

Cernuto tops 4,000

Southmoreland senior quarterback Zach Cernuto recently surpassed 4,000 passing yards for his career. A third-year starter, Cernuto has thrown for 338 yards this season and has 4,069 yards since he took the helm of the offense in 2017.

Cernuto is the all-time leading passer at Southmoreland.

Eight other Westmoreland County quarterbacks have thrown for 4,000 or more yards: Jack Salopek (Norwin, 6,150), Brett Laffoon (Penn-Trafford, 5,908 yards), Tyler Huether (Penn-Trafford, 5,607), Ryan Flynn (Latrobe, 5,447), Tony Zimmerman (Penn-Trafford, 5,047), Jeff Palladino (Penn-Trafford, 4,769), Terrelle Pryor (Jeannette, 4,340) and John Caldwell (Ligonier Valley, 4,161).

Game moved

Friday’s Monessen at Jefferson-Morgan game has been moved to Waynesburg University.

The site change is because of ongoing construction at Jefferson-Morgan’s Parker Field.

Kickoff remains 7 p.m.

Sanders adjusts

Jeannette grad Imani Sanders is finding his way at Steel City Prep, a Pittsburgh-based program aimed at helping players further prepare to play college football while also assisting them in finding a landing spot.

Sanders, a shifty running back for the Jayhawks, has moved to wide receiver. He had three receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown in the season opener, a 20-19 loss to Fork Union (Va.).

“It’s a different environment. Everyone is on a mission to chase millions as an athlete, and it’s the best when there is a lot of competition for spots,” Sanders said. “Me coming from Class A, everyone says it’s so small, no competition. But I’m doing what I was doing, just more at a different position.”

Sanders did not get a scholarship offer coming out of Jeannette, which is why he chose the prep program path.

“To be straight up, I’m not an D-III athlete and I’ve been doubted and I’m here to show them different.”

Steel City plays this week against Jireh Preparatory Academy.

No pressure

Franklin Regional put together a nice bounce-back win last week, 42-20 over Fox Chapel after a lopsided loss to Gateway. But the Panthers have high standards to follow. They probably can’t lose another game if they want to keep pace with the school’s other fall sports teams.

Consider, four teams were undefeated through Tuesday — boys soccer (5-0), girls volleyball (5-0), girls soccer (4-0) and girls tennis (5-0) — while girls golf was 9-1 and boys golf 7-1.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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