Colts' coach, offense, roster are new, but attitude remains the same
NORTHERN CAMBRIA — Northern Cambria is running a new offense with a new coach and a bunch of new starters.
A lot has changed for the Colts in the past year, but their attitude remains the same.
“We’ll be running some new things, but when we come out here on the field, we are still just working to get those wins,” quarterback Tyler Pershing said. “There have definitely been some big changes, but we’re still the Northern Cambria Colts and have the same expectations for ourselves.”
Frank Paronish, who is in his second stint with the Colts, brought his up-tempo ways back to the field and put them in the hands of a young team.
“We lack varsity experience, there’s no question about it,” Paronish said. “That’s going to be a big thing we’re going to have to overcome. When you look at a situation where you have just four players with varsity experience, these young athletes are really going to have to step it up.”
So far, those players have accepted that challenge and are enjoying their chance to prove themselves.
“We have a lot of new kids coming in, and even though we do have kids with a lot of talent, you can’t teach experience,” lineman Anthony Frontino said. “But we’re starting to click, and we’re all looking forward to getting out there. It’s going to be a good experience, and I’m excited to see what we can do this year.”
Pershing, who played in nine games last year and started after Dartagnan Suchar was injured, will take the snaps in the spread offense. He was 39 of 78 for 521 yards last season. Listed at 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, Pershing will be able to take advantage of his speed in the new offense.
“I have a big responsibility and we’re throwing the ball a lot more, and that falls on my shoulders a little bit,” he said. “It’s a lot faster-paced, but that might be a better fit for me. Last year, I didn’t really run a lot, but this year, I want to get out there and take off a little bit. I’m looking forward to it. I was a little timid last year with that, but I’m feeling better about it all this season.”
“It’s amazing how Tyler is controlling the offense and how well he’s seeing the field,” Paronish said. “Those games that he had last year helped him tremendously. What’s really nice is his athleticism, and he won’t hesitate to tuck the ball and run in a passing situation.”
Another returning starter, receiver Joe Olish, could benefit from the new offense as well. He caught 15 passes for 198 yards last year and hopes to double those numbers as a senior.
Olish also is the backup quarterback, giving the Colts more options to choose from in their playbook.
“He’s a double threat,” Paronish said. “What more could you ask for? He’s a senior, he’s had some experience, and he brings to the plate the ability to catch the ball so well. Not only that, but he has great speed and we can put him at quarterback sometimes, which opens things up for us.”
Northern Cambria’s success might depend on its inexperienced offensive and defensive lines.
Senior Jon McGary starts at center, replacing his graduated brother, Joe. Seniors Chase Hill and Frontino, junior Brady Lockard and sophomore Cody Frederick complete the offensive line.
“We have one returning lineman, and as a result of that, we had a lot of question marks,” Paronish said. “We’re seeing some good things, but of course, when we get in the games and actually start playing, we’ll see what we really have and how they are able to handle those pressure situations. Hopefully we have the right people in the right positions.”
One player Paronish is confident in is junior Mike Sclesky, a two-year letterwinner listed at 6-2, 350. He anchors the defensive line.
“I have seen a big attitude change in him this year,” Paronish said. “He’s much more focused on his job at defensive tackle, and he understands what that job is.
“At his size, he can really control the area that he’s in, and we’re looking forward to him doing a nice job.”
The Colts have the largest roster in the area with 49 players, but they lack some experienced depth. Paronish said if his team can stay healthy, he has high expectations, which begin at home against Ligonier Valley on Friday night.
“This team will find a way to win,” he said. “They’re overcoming obstacles every day. You have to keep in mind that they’re learning a new offense and a new defense, and they’re trying to find themselves on this team. They are willing to learn, and we are headed in the right direction.”
“We open up with three very good teams, and we’re excited about it. Of course we’re trying to win a title and get to the playoffs, but that’s pretty standard for every team. We just want to go out there and make some noise.”