Quaker Valley football out to raise program’s expectations after trying season

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Sunday, November 20, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The exit interviews have been taking place within the Quaker Valley football program.

Recordwise, it proved to be a disappointing 2022 season for the Quakers. After starting out 2-1 under first-year coach Jason Cappa, QV lost its last six games all by wide margins.

“The team’s first order of business is getting a list of players who are playing winter sports and who are not involved in a winter sport. I encourage my players to participate in multiple sports. There’s no substitute for competition,” Cappa said. “The players who are not involved in a winter sport will use our offseason program as their sport to keep up with academic and athletic improvement.

“We have completed exit interviews with the players to talk about the season we just completed and the goals we have individually and as a team moving forward.”

Overall, the Quakers finished 1-8 and were 1-5 in the Class 3A Western Hills Conference. Avonworth won the conference with a 6-0 record, followed by Beaver, West Mifflin and South Park all tied for second at 4-2. Hopewell ended up 2-4 and was trailed by QV and Seton LaSalle.

Statistically, QV was led by seniors Troy Kozar, Gavin Eshinbaugh, Jacob Pickett and Christian Brown.

Kozar, a 6-foot, 180-pound quarterback, accounted for 845 total yards this season. He passed for 725 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 120 yards.

Kozar’s favorite targets were the 6-2, 190-pound Pickett, who had 27 receptions for 490 yards, and the 5-6, 130-pound Brown, with 12 receptions for 117 yards.

Pickett caught five passes for a school-record 163 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-22 conference win against Seton LaSalle.

A four-year starter, Pickett led the Quakers in receiving both as a junior and senior.

Eshenbaugh, a 5-10, 185-pound running back, paced QV in the rushing department.

Cappa said the Quakers’ returning players this season, such as Pickett (WR/DB), Abe Djedid (OL/DE) and Ethan Pesce (OL/DL), competed at a high level while senior newcomers, including the likes of Kozar (QB), Evan Ray (OL/DL) and Brown (ATH/DB), assumed individual leadership roles.

“They show up every day bringing a positive attitude,” Cappa said. “They never shy away from a challenge.”

Following a brief rest period, the Quakers plan to embark on a vigorous offseason conditioning program.

“We are working on developing football players through a strenuous offseason program that is geared to make us bigger, faster and stronger,” Cappa said. “The offseason is where championships are won.

“We have to improve in all areas from offense to defense to special teams. We also need to improve our player development. We have coaches in place that specialize in speed, strength and athletic performance of athletes. Having a full year to work with our kids will be very beneficial to our football players.”

Cappa also will be on the lookout to recruit QV athletes not currently in the football program. The Quakers had the smallest roster in the conference.

There were 36 players listed on this year’s roster, including 10 seniors and 10 freshmen and eight juniors and eight sophomores.

By comparison, Beaver started out the season with 57 players and Avonworth had 53.

“Our goal this offseason is to also to continue recruiting the athletes in the school who are not in a fall sport to join our football family,” said the philosophical Cappa. “We had many seniors join the team this past season who did not play last year. We want to continue inviting the top athletes in the school to be a part of building a championship program.”

There were some positive achievements attained by players and the team in 2022.

“Some of the positives were the small victories we had as a program,” Cappa said. “We had 100% academic eligibility. We had Saturday varsity workouts and JV games for the first time in a while. We also had some record-breaking performances.”

The Quakers were hampered by injuries throughout the season, which can prove disastrous to a team with less than 40 players.

“An obvious disappointment for us was our win and loss record,” Cappa said. “Another disappointment was the amount of injuries we had to endure. We had 19 first-year players. The week after our victory in Week 4, we had eight starters standing in street clothes due to injury.

“We need to do a better job in the weight room getting stronger for a couple reasons — first for injury prevention, and second, so we don’t get pushed around physically by other teams.”

Avonworth, Beaver, West Mifflin and South Park all won at least one game in the WPIAL playoffs.

“There are no losses, only lessons,” Cappa said. “We learned a lot this season. We see what it takes to compete with all of the great teams in our conference.”

Another step the Quakers need to take is to raise their own level of expectation. QV sat out the postseason for four consecutive years, and the team’s coaching staff inherited a program that had gone 9-25 since winning WPIAL and PIAA titles in 2017.

“My expectations are always the same,” Cappa said, “to compete at a high level with ourselves and versus others. We must learn to raise our level of expectations to be champions individually and learn how to get others around us competing at the same level. We have student-athletes at this school who know how to compete for championships.

“Our expectations have been the same since Day 1: Teach fundamentals, train to become better athletes and football players, teach our players to compete at a championship level and build positive relationships within our program.”

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