HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Colts bank on large senior class, lot of depth
NORTHERN CAMBRIA — In Class A high school football, quality is sometimes better than quantity. Having two or three good athletes could make or break a season.
But in recent years, area teams have struggled to dress 40 or even 30 players, making it difficult to practice or finish out a season strongly after injuries. Suddenly, quantity becomes more important.
The Northern Cambria Colts will have nothing to worry about this year, with more than 50 players on the roster.
“We have 53 kids dressing right now, plus one manager who couldn’t come back from last year after a knee injury,” coach Paul Taranto said. “So 54 kids on the squad. We were right around 60 when we started camp, and then we lost about five. They are great numbers, and we’re really fortunate because at a lot of schools, the JV team has to stand back and watch the varsity. Now, we can split it up and have a great practice. Now, we can have a full scrimmage on one side of the field and a full scrimmage on the other side of the field. It gives us a lot of options and depth, and that will help us in case of injuries.”
At the head of the Colts’ roster is a senior class that numbers 17, which Taranto calls a “football grade.” Eleven of those 17 players are returning lettermen who have played in varsity games.
“It’s helpful knowing we have such a big team and a big senior class, and we all stick together and always have stuck together,” senior quarterback Dartagnan Suchar said. “Over half of our senior class has been playing together since seventh grade, and it’s the most fun we have all year. The fact that this is our last year makes us want to work together even harder to be the best team we can be. It helps to have that depth and trust on a team.”
“We have a lot of players and definitely a lot of returning lettermen,” senior lineman Chris Barrett said. “There are a lot of differences from last year to this year. We have a lot of seniors coming back this year, and we’ve all played before. We’ve been training a lot harder and have been having more scrimmages at practice, and that will help us a lot.”
With the largest roster in the Heritage Conference, the Colts have more options on both sides of the ball due to their depth and their experience.
“Last year’s seniors, they were a great group,” Taranto said. “They were a great group of athletes and just great people overall, and everyone knew them. Usually, if you lose a class like that, you’re going to have a down year. But fortunate enough for us, we have a lot of kids out this year, and we have another great senior class. They’re a football class. And they bring more kids with them because they’re enthusiastic. They’re in the weight room all offseason, and without a doubt, we’re going to be much better than a team that lost the people we lost.”
“Yeah, there are a lot of us, and that’s a good thing right now,” Suchar said. “We have been working very well as a team. A lot of us go on the off days to the track to run or do anything we can just to get better. Just like any other team, we’re going as hard as we can to get ready, and hopefully it all comes together in the end.”