Penn-Trafford senior lineman can’t wait for season opener

Tuesday, August 24, 2021 | 6:37 PM

When Declan Ochendowski looked at the 2021 football schedule, he didn’t just circle one game that he was looking forward to.

He circled them all.

“I’m excited about all the games,” said the 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior tackle/defensive end. “If I had to choose, the Norwin game is a big rivalry, Gateway is always big, and I’m looking forward to playing Belle Vernon and Peters Township. It should be a lot of fun.”

Penn-Trafford kicks off the season Friday at Norwin, and Ochendowski likes his team’s chances.

“I know a lot of the players at Norwin,” Ochendowski said. “We grew up playing against each other. I have some friends on the team. But we just want to play well and build off our scrimmage.”

And while Ochendowski is looking forward to the season, he knows there is a lot of work ahead if the Warriors hope to defend their Class 5A Big East Conference title they shared with Gateway. Because of the coronavirus, the teams didn’t get to play their scheduled game.

Penn-Trafford scrimmaged against Kiski Area on Saturday and Ochendowski said it went pretty well.

“There are definitely a lot of things we have to work on,” Ochendowski said. “There were good things we did as a team, and there are some areas we need to improve.

“We had a hard week of practice. It was physical. Up front, I thought the offensive and defensive lines did well.”

Ochendowski, center Joe Enick and guard Garrett Moorhead return from a 6-2 season. They’ll be counted on to open up running lanes for Cade Yacamelli and protect quarterbacks Carter Green and Tommy Kalkstein.

“Carter and Tommy are very good,” Ochendowski said. “Both are looking very good. Joe (Enick) is a monster at center and nose guard, and Conlan Greene looks good at defensive end. We’ll be OK.”

The one thing is constant about the Penn-Trafford program: It retools every season. It doesn’t rebuild.

“That’s the mentality about our program,” Ochendowski said. “We have that next-man-up mentality. We always have guys waiting to make an impact. I’ve been trying to coach up the younger guys.”

As for himself, Ochendowski spent part of the offseason playing lacrosse, which helped his endurance and skills. He also worked hard in the weight room and tried to learn how to become a better pass rusher.

He worked on his footwork, his hand-combat battles and some new moves.

“We have great coaches,” Ochendowski said. “They’ve helped me a lot. I wanted to improve my pass-rushing abilities.”

Ochendowski currently has one Division I offer and that’s from Dartmouth in the Ivy League. He’s also talked to numerous Football Championship Subdivision schools.

He’s expecting more will come his way during the season.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .


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