Laying it on the line: Saltsburg senior makes move up front from backfield
SALTSBURG — Last year, Jimmy Beitel carried the ball a little bit and did some blocking out of the backfield for Saltsburg, but this year, he will be blocking as an offensive lineman.
Beitel made the switch from fullback to offensive line in the offseason, a move that should benefit the Trojans greatly.
“I’m going to tip my hat to Jimmy right now because he played running back for us last year,” coach Tim Frassenei said. “We talked to him because he’s one of the strongest kids on this team, and we know he loves to touch the ball, but he’s doing us a service by being on the line. He thought about making the move and talked to some of the kids about it, and all of a sudden, he’s one of our best linemen. You don’t do that without having the right attitude. He’s been working his butt off, and he’s had some great practices.”
Beitel grew since last season. Last year he was listed at 5-foot-6, 200 pounds. This year he’s listed at 5-8, 220. He recently had his number switched from 28 to 65, finalizing the shift to the front line. One thing that hasn’t changed is his determination.
“We really have faith in our line so far, and having Jimmy up there is great,” quarterback Tyler Frassenei said. “He’s been working very hard, and it’s paying off. The whole line has, actually.”
Beitel will team up on the offensive line with fellow seniors Jacob Grguric and Dylan Shearer.
“I’ve been learning, and my teammates have been helping me out,” Beitel said. “As a team we have really improved this year — on the line and everything else. We’re looking pretty good.”
“It’s weird because there’s a lot of linemen who were fighting for spots,” Tim Frassenei said. “We typically don’t have that. Sometimes, that’s been one of our weak spots. We had seven or eight kids fighting for a spot on the offensive line.”
If the Trojans’ line can put together a solid season, their offense has a chance to get something going. Saltsburg averaged only 112.5 rushing yards and 12.7 points per game last season.
“We have three good seniors up front,” Tim Frassenei said. “Jimmy, Dylan and Jacob have all put in a lot of work, and all three of them have done an outstanding job. Jacob has made leaps and bounds from where he was last year. It’s a really nice mix right now, and it should help us out in other aspects of the game.”
The Trojans have been having success in the offseason with their defense, too. Beitel and Grguric will see time at linebacker along with Frassenei. Saltsburg ranked last in the Heritage Conference in rushing defense (256.2) and total defense (347.7) last year.
“These kids are energetic on the lines,” Tim Frassenei said. “They are probably one of the most hustling groups of kids that we’ve ever had. The drills and practices have been fantastic for the whole team. Defensively, we’re getting five or six guys to the ball at a time. That’s one of the biggest fights in Class A football is presenting a challenge in practices. If you are practicing your JV defense against your first-team offense, you’re obviously not going to get many kids to the ball. But we have been this year with all of our defensive players, and those kinds of things give you something to build upon.”
Beitel, and the rest of the Trojans, have put the work in to see results.
“It looks like we’re going to have a good season, and we’re hoping for the best,” Beitel said. “We really think it can happen this year. The changes with the offense have only helped us. We’re ready to get out there and see what we can do.”