With QB Persinger healthy, Montour ready to compete in new Parkway Conference

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Monday, August 31, 2020 | 11:16 PM


In back-to-back years, the Montour football program became quite familiar with the ups and downs of high school football. The 2017 season was close to the best of times and the follow up in 2018 was the worst of times.

Three years ago, the Spartans finished 9-3 and reached the WPIAL Class 4A title game where they lost to Thomas Jefferson.

A year later, Montour never recovered from an 0-5 start and finished an uncharacteristic 3-7 with a rare playoff miss.

Things leveled out for coach Lou Cerro’s team a year ago as Montour once again started slow and finished the regular season with a 5-5 record. A return to the postseason was short and not as sweet as the Spartans lost again to Thomas Jefferson, 49-7.

“We lost some real close games early,” Cerro said. “A play here or a play there and we probably don’t lose many.”

Injuries also played a role in another sluggish 1-4 start.

“We lost our quarterback for a five-game stretch, and we had to revert to a wildcat and had a lot of success,” Cerro said. “Our quarterback came back for the last game and was starting to play well against South Fayette when he got hurt again.”

The quarterback is back again. Senior Luke Persinger threw for 820 yards in limited action last year. The three-year starter is being counted on to have a big bounce-back season.

“After my injury last year, I was devastated because I couldn’t finish the season with my team,” Persinger said. “But I did a lot of rehab work on my shoulder to be stronger, and I am ready for this year.”

Also back for Montour is its top running back from a year ago in senior Gannon Kadlecik. The three-year starter at running back and linebacker rushed for more than 700 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per tote to go with 12 touchdowns.

“With having Gannon back and a host of talented running backs, we should be fine in the backfield,” Cerro said.

Kadlecik is a Radnor baseball recruit.

“Having Gannon and the other seniors back is a huge help,” Persinger said. “They are all big playmakers and are just as ready to get going this year.”

Among the other six offensive and five defensive starters returning for the Spartans is Liberty recruit Jaiden Hill, a wide receiver and defensive back who was second on the team in receiving last fall.

Senior Cam McLaurin is a three-year starter on both the offensive and defensive line while Dom Sprys will start at linebacker and made the move from center to fullback a year ago.

It is a mixed bag for Cerro and his staff when it comes to experience.

“We have a lot of experience at some positions and none at others,” Cerro said. “Luke (Persinger) being back is huge for us. I am excited to see who wants to compete to play and stay on the winning track. It never gets old to see all student-athletes compete and be successful in all that they do.”

Class 4A has expanded from two to three conferences this season. Montour finished tied with New Castle and Knoch for third place last year in the Northwest Conference, trailing only South Fayette and Blackhawk.

“Last year we had some tight games at the end,” Persinger said. “This year, we are going to prove who Montour is and what we are about.”

After a four-year hiatus, the Parkway Conference name returns with only six teams. Montour, Blackhawk, Beaver and New Castle are joined by Chartiers Valley moving down from 5A and Aliquippa moving up from 3A.

“Great teams as usual,” Cerro said. “Teams we have played in the past in the old Parkway, now with Aliquippa and Char Valley. It will be competitive each week. With only five conference games, each week is so important.”

Schedule

Coach: Lou Cerro

2019 record: 5-6, 4-3 in the Class 4A Northwest Eight

All-time record: 439-337-20

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, Chartiers Valley*, 7

9.18, Hopewell, 7

9.25, at Keystone Oaks, 7

10.2, New Castle*, 7

10.9, at Blackhawk*, 7

10.16, Aliquippa*, 7

10.23, at Beaver*, 7:30

*Class 4A Parkway Conference

Statistical leaders

Passing: Luke Persinger

55-114, 820 yards, 2 TDs

Receiving: Domenic Magliocco*

28-530 yards, 9 TDs

Rushing: Gannon Kadlecik

150-701 yards, 12 TDs

*Graduated

Fast facts

• Ten years ago, Montour finished the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record and beat West Mifflin, Indiana and Mars in the Class AAA playoffs to reach Heinz Field. The Spartans’ perfect season ended with a 24-7 loss to first-year Central Valley.

• Montour won its first WPIAL championship in 47 years by beating Knoch, 42-14, in the 2011 WPIAL Class AAA finals.

• Montour has won back-to-back WPIAL football championships twice. The Spartans were co-champs with Avella after tying the Eagles, 7-7, in the 1957 Class A finals. A year later, they won the 1958 crown with a 20-7 victory over Edgewood. Then in 1963 and ‘64, Montour won two straight WPIAL Class AA championships with a 29-12 win over Freeport followed by a 19-7 triumph over Arnold.

• This will be Cerro’s 16th season as head coach at Montour. After success as head coach at Seton LaSalle, Cerro had to share the “head coaching” duties his first year with NFL Hall of Famer Dick Butkus for the 2005 reality TV show “Bound for Glory.” The Spartans were bound for a 1-8 finish, but great success has come in the last 14 years.

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