Pine-Richland’s Falcone keeps up production rate

Sunday, September 3, 2017 | 11:10 PM

Pine-Richland's Raymond Falcone was one of the WPIAL's most productive wide receivers last season, catching 59 passes for a district-best 1,229 yards with 14 touchdowns in 12 games.

He's on the way to similar production this season with 11 receptions for 220 yards and three touchdowns through the Rams' first two games.

Opposing defenses do their best, but Falcone continues to produce.

He said opponents double-cover him, but when they do, quarterback Phil Jurkovec spreads the ball around to players such as Jason DeFrancisis or Ben Jochem, each of whom are coming off 100-yard receiving performances in the Rams' 53-29 victory over Mt. Lebanon.

“Three or four games into the season last year, teams started to bracket me or double me,” Falcone said. “It's definitely a lot harder, and it's frustrating at times. But whenever we have other people making plays, they're not able to do that.”

“It opens everyone up, and they might have to readjust.”

The production of Jurkovec, Falcone and other Pine-Richland receivers is not by chance.

A lot of work has gone into developing the chemistry the senior teammates share. Falcone said the results have been a decade in the making.

“We've all been playing together since the Little Rams youth league,” Falcone said. “Since middle school, we've been going to the field in our extra time and throwing. Even over the summer, we go after practice and we'll throw for two to three hours around three to four times a week.

“We know each other really well. Phil knows exactly what I'm going to do. He knows what Jason is going to do. He knows what Ben is going to do. He knows because we've already repped it so many times.”

The special rapport that comes with catching passes from the same quarterback for the better part of 10 years becomes particularly important when offensive plays go into scramble mode. Often enough, Pine-Richland's staunch offensive line is able to hold blocks for long stretches, or Jurkovec can extend plays with his legs. Those moments are when the Rams offense, and their wide receivers in particular, become more of a threat.

“We've been able to extend plays and make something out of nothing a lot of the time,” Falcone said. “We actually practice scramble because it does happen a lot in games. Phil gets a lot of time because our line is awesome, and he's able to make space. Then, I don't know, it just happens and we know where to be.”

Pine-Richland will play its first section game of the year at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Seneca Valley.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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