McCann embodies Kiski Area’s hard-nosed mentality

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Friday, August 16, 2019 | 7:29 PM


After winning three of its first four games last season, the Kiski Area football team was ready to make a strong move in the right direction.

But several injuries left the Cavaliers hampered, and a slew of underclassmen were thrown into the starting lineup. One of those underclassmen was Peyton McCann. The 5-foot-9, 155-pound running back stepped in for injured senior Drew Dinunzio-Biss.

He played both ways and even played multiple positions on defense, giving coach Sam Albert an idea of the type of player he was going to have for this season.

“He’s one of those kids who is just tough,” Albert said of the current senior. “He’s old school, if you say run through the wall he’s through the wall, no questions asked. Defensively, we moved him everywhere from defensive tackle to outside ‘backer to inside ‘backer to corner. He plays everywhere. Then, offensively he runs hard and low. He is just that type of kid that you love to have on your team.”

While he didn’t cross the goal line last season, McCann tallied 201 yards on 57 carries. On defense, he made 23 tackles and had two sacks. Outside of finding ways to fill the stat sheet, McCann gained a valuable amount of experience throughout his junior year.

Earning time in the backfield allowed him to realize where he needed to work on his game. He admitted one thing he’ll put a lot of time into this season is his pass blocking so he can stay on the field longer.

He also learned he needs to see where holes open up, a skill he said has improved tremendously.

“My reading is getting a lot better, just being able to see where the actual space is,” McCann said. “I’m starting to learn how the line is blocking, and I know all of their blocks so I know where I’ll be able to go.”

Albert said McCann’s presence on the field will be important this season because of his versatility on both sides of the ball. But Albert also is looking for McCann to be a leader in the locker room. Since the longtime coach has been at Kiski Area, McCann has been one of the players who have been “all-in.”

“Him and Luke Lander and a couple of the seniors have bought in from Day 1,” Albert said. “In their third year together they have really brought us closer together.”

His leadership qualities over the past few years are something Albert has noticed, but one thing that has caught his eye the most is the hard-nosed attitude McCann displays. With his small frame, McCann developed a mentality when he was a freshman of always giving 110%, no matter what the situation.

“I always go 150 miles per hour, use all the weight I can, and just try to show people that no matter what size you are you can do whatever you want,” he said.

Over the course of his three years at Kiski Area, Albert has attempted to teach the Cavaliers how to play a smash-mouth, hard-hitting type of football. Although he doesn’t display the size, McCann has embodied the exact type of style Albert envisions.

“He brings that toughness that every team wants,” Albert said. “He’s that kid that is just a tough kid. He goes all out in every drill. He goes all out in everything we do, and he raises that bar for everyone else.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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