Two-way lineman a blue ribbon prospect for Latrobe football team

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Thursday, August 18, 2022 | 4:01 PM


He will show lionhead rabbits and work a bottle-rocket contest at the Westmoreland Fair later in the summer.

But this week, Danny Calabrese is honing his skills as a two-way lineman for Latrobe as the Wildcats make their way into Class 4A football under first-year coach Ron Prady and his staff.

The energy in training camp practices so far, though, has been comparable to that of the Westmoreland Fairgrounds in late August: There is a buzz in the air.

Football is back, and everyone has a chance at a WPIAL championship. Even Latrobe?

“The vibe is good,” said Calabrese, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound senior. “It’s time to get Latrobe football back on track. We want to blow up that new conference.”

Of course, this isn’t like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. No magic here.

Calabrese brings a blue-collar work ethic and doesn’t expect anything to be handed to his team because it is moving down one class.

“Danny is the kind of kid you can win with,” said Prady, a former Penn-Trafford assistant. “He is a very strong run blocker and should make an impact in pass protection. He is going to be a leader for us — a leader by example.”

Prady has every intention to run the ball with multiple backs. There was a time when Calabrese saw himself playing a different position at the varsity level.

“When I was in sixth grade, I used to wrestle and I hurt my foot, so I missed a lot of time and I gained weight,” he said. “I had been playing some quarterback and running back. It all changed. No regrets, though. I like playing on the line.”

Calabrese played guard and center last year and is in line to play one of the same spots again.

He expects to see a move from defensive tackle to defensive end.

“I’ll play anywhere — whatever helps us win,” he said. “Nose, D-end, guard, center, doesn’t matter. We had a four-front last year and we’re going to a three-front now, so there have been some changes.”

As for the change in team attitude and morale, Calabrese said the mood is palpable.

“In the past, we would all get down and start blaming each other,” he said. “There isn’t any goofing around on the sidelines now. Coach Prady has us locked in. He knows what winning feels like, and he wants us to know, too.”

Prady thinks Calabrese can be a Division II or III college player.

“I wish I had 10 more of him,” Prady said. “He explodes out of his stance. People watching the game don’t see the kind of things he can do (as a lineman), but we coaches see it on film. We know how important he is to what we want to do.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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