Veteran team sparks enthusiasm at Greensburg Salem

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Saturday, August 17, 2019 | 11:10 AM


Some time ago, when Dave Keefer was an assistant football coach at Central Catholic, he received a bit of insight from WPIAL coaching legend Art Walker Sr.

And though he didn’t particularly dwell on it at the time, it has stuck with him since: “There’s no substitution for experience.”

Years later, as he prepares for the start of his seventh year as coach at Greensburg Salem, Keefer figures he will find out how valuable that lesson might be.

“It’s truly one of the best things someone ever said to me,” said Keefer, who welcomed 12 seniors and 10 juniors to camp, many of whom helped Greensburg Salem advance to the WPIAL playoffs in 2018 for the first time under his watch as the Golden Lions ended a six-year postseason drought.

As Keefer’s own coaching legacy continues to develop, he’s hoping for a return to the playoffs, and he’s feeling good about the prospects because of all that experience at his disposal.

“We’re excited for the year,” he said. “We think we have a very good senior group coming back, and we have a nice group of young underclassmen that we think can complement well.”

Greensburg Salem’s overall record of 4-7 in 2018, while underwhelming, included a 4-3 mark in the Class 4A Big 8 Conference, qualifying the Golden Lions for a first-round playoff game against eventual WPIAL champion South Fayette.

The Lions of South Fayette rolled over the Golden Lions of Greensburg Salem, 42-6, but that hasn’t diminished Keefer’s enthusiasm.

“For the most part,” he said, “it was a successful season last year. We’re looking to build on it. The goal is to get back in the playoffs and try to improve our seeding placement. To do that, obviously, we’ve got to win more games in the conference.”

South Fayette took out a pair of Big 8 heavyweights — Thomas Jefferson in the finals and Belle Vernon in the semis — on its way to the WPIAL title.

Greensburg Salem is hoping to make a longer run this year. Hopes rest mainly on 11 returning starters, including 5-foot-10, 220-pound senior quarterback Trent Patrick, a 1,000-yard passer last season, who also is a threat to run.

“We’re fortunate to have a quarterback coming back who has a really good arm,” Keefer said. “He’s a really good leader.”

Six two-way starters are back for the Golden Lions. They are wide receiver/linebacker Cavan Trout, tight end/wide receiver/linebacker Ryan Thomas, slotback/safety Jalen Page, slotback/cornerback Aaren Putt, and Billy McChesney and Collin Pasko, a pair of guards/defensive linemen.

Guard/tackle Joe Gongaware, tackles Matt Metrosky and Thomas Glunt and kicker/punter Wyatt Ramer are the other returning starters.

“Whether they started or not, they understand their roles,” Keefer said. “Skill and talent is one thing, but when you see somebody that has veteran experience, it really takes hold when they get into games because the game just slows down for them.”

Greensburg Salem opens the season Aug. 23 at Class 6A Hempfield.

“You truly cannot look down the road,” Keefer said. “You have to win games when you have the opportunity to win. Injuries can always come into play.”

But, he said, “We like our odds, we like the situation. We’ve got a tough schedule and we’re aware of it. A lot of people talk about it. Our kids are probably the best about it. They recognize each week is a competition. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing.”

Schedule

Coach: Dave Keefer

2018 record: 4-7, 4-3

All-time record: 694-383-39

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, at Hempfield, 7

8.30, at Trinity*, 7

9.6, at Mars, 7

9.13, South Fayette, 7

9.20, at Laurel Highlands*, 7

9.27, Belle Vernon*, 7

10.4, West Mifflin*, 7

10.11, at Ringgold*, 7

10.18, Thomas Jefferson*, 7

10.25, Indiana*, 7

*Class 4A Big 8 Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Trent Patrick

75-146, 1,010 yards, 11TDs

Receiving: Tyler Williams*

22-275 yards, 3TDs

Rushing: Aaren Putt

97-631 yards, 4TDs

*Graduated

Greensburg Salem roster

No., Name, Pos., Ht/Wt., Cl.

1, Rashad Canady, FB/LB, 5-10/170, Fr.

2, Raequan Rollins, WR/DB, 5-8/135, Fr.

3, Ahkeem White, WR/DB, 5-11/145, So.

4, Cavan Trout, WR/LB, 6-2/210, Sr.

6, Shamar McCoy, WR/DL, 6-5/210, Sr. 7, Hayden Teska, QB/DB, 5-10/160, So.

9, Trent Patrick, QB/LB, 5-9/230, Sr.

10, Logan Smith, WR/DB, 5-10/155, Sr.

11, Cody Rubrecht, QB/DB, 5-7/140, Fr.

12, Ryan Thomas, TE/LB, 6-2/200, Sr.

13, Jayden Stevens, TE/LB, 6-1/175, So.

14, Mike DeNezza, WR/DL, 5-8/135, So.

15, Connor Moore, WR/DB, 5-10/150, Sr.

16, Kaidyn Gonder, WR/DB, 5-7/115, Fr.

17, JC Wallish, FB/DB, 5-6/170, So.

18, Wyatt Ramer, K/P, 6-0/155, Jr.

21, Alex Briggs, FB/DB, 5-10/180, Jr.

22, Jalen Page, WR/DB, 5-10/185, Sr.

23, Aaron Tressler, WR/DB, 5-10/125, Fr.

24, Nico Williams, WR/DB, 5-7/140, Sr.

25, Christian Hostetler, WR/LB, 5-9/140, Fr.

26, Aaren Putt, WR/DB, 5-6/170, Sr.

32, Jerome Wallish, WR/DB, 5-6/125, Fr.

50, Kaleb Riggs, OL/DL, 5-10/195, Fr.

51, Travis Macioce, OL/DL, 5-10/220, Jr.

54, Billy McChesney, OL/DL, 6/245, So.

55, Joe Gongaware, OL/DL, 5-11/220, Jr.

56, Tyrone Williams, OL/DL, 5-6/180, So.

58, Jakob DeMine, OL/DL, 5-7/190, Fr.

59, Caleb Chismar, OL/DL, 6-1/210, So.

60, Alex Firestone, OL/LB, 5-7/150, So.

62, Matthew Metrosky, OL/DL, 6/270, Jr.

63, Christian McChesney, OL/DL, 5-9/195, Fr.

64, Thomas Pack, OL/DL, 5-10/220, Sr.

66, Cole Willcox, OL/DL, 5-8/205, Fr.

72, Clayton Hudspath, OL/DL, 5-10/210, So.

73, Joey McGough, OL/DL, 6/260, Jr.

74, Tommy Glunt, OL/DL, 6-2/260, Sr.

75, Dakota Powell, OL/DL, 6/300, Jr.

79, Collin Pasko, OL/DL, 6-2/270, Sr.

99, Kyle McBride, OL/DL, 5-7/170, Sr.

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