Shorthanded Bishop Canevin looks to overcome roster turnover

Friday, August 18, 2017 | 11:00 PM

It has been an offseason of attrition for the Bishop Canevin football team.

The Crusaders lost a senior class of eight players from the 2016 squad that went 8-3. But more recently, five players left the school — dropping the team to 22 players. Bishop Canevin lost last season's leading passer, rusher and receiver with the 13-player turnover.

But that hasn't stopped the returning players from focusing on making it to the postseason for the third consecutive season.

“Guys are stepping up to make this the best year that they can,” senior Zach Trusky said. “We are a family. We work hard together no matter what the scenario.”

Stepping into the quarterback spot will be Brian De Schon. The junior saw time under center last season, throwing for 342 yards and four touchdowns.

“I embrace being a leader,” De Schon said. “I had to do it as a sophomore. I am ready to step up for when the team needs me.”

De Schon will look to Jon Ruffing. The junior played tight end and averaged 11.4 yards per catch with a touchdown.

The running attack will be powered by Trusky. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry with four touchdowns a season ago.

“(Trusky) has put in four years of tremendous work,” Bishop Canevin coach Darren Schoppe said. “He is going to be a huge part of our offense.”

The heart of the team might be the line. Schoppe expects Lou Worrall, Robert Andrews and A.J. Cirilli to all make an impact in the trenches.

“I always appreciate those guys,” Trusky said. “They put the time and work in. I am excited to have them blocking for me.”

Defensively, Robert Goodnight will give the linebacker corps a boost. The senior had 61 tackles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions last season. Trusky will return to the cornerback position where he had 49 tackles and four interceptions last season. Finn Crossey, De Schon and Worrall are all experienced players Bishop Canevin will rely on to play both ways this season.

“We are still lacking some depth,” Schoppe said. “But I'm not crying the blues. That is how it is with everyone in Class A football.”

Special teams should be bolstered by the return of kicker Jared Witwicki. The junior connected on 29 point-after attempts last season.

The team will have several new faces who will look to make an impact. Alex Shaughnessy is listed as a 6-foot-2, 170-pound sophomore wide receiver and defensive back.

The line got a boost with the return of Alex Jozefowicz. The senior started several games for Bishop Canevin as a freshman but decided to concentrate on baseball.

The Eastern Conference will offer the Crusaders plenty of competition. Bishop Canevin opens the season with a showdown against Clairton — the defending WPIAL champion — and will have games with Imani Christian, Greensburg Central Catholic and runner-up Jeannette.

“We like having the champion and runner-up in our conference,” De Schon said. “Sometimes players get butterflies in their stomach. But once you get a couple plays in, they go away. That's when we can play our style of football.”

Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.


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