HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Dettorre moves from sideline to booth
Ab Dettorre no longer walks the sideline as Blairsville’s coach, but he’ll never be far from the action on Friday night when the Bobcats play.
Dettorre has gone from the sideline to the broadcast booth, where he’ll provide color commentary alongside play-by-play man Chuck Clark on Blairsville’s broadcasts on Cat Country 106.3.
“(The broadcast role) is a change of pace,” Dettorre said. “(Coaching) was a door that closed and this is a door that’s going to open up. I’m excited about it. I think I have some insight not only about the Blairsville team, but I am fairly familiar with the opponents Blairsville plays and their coaches.”
Dettorre coached Blairsville for 26 seasons, compiling a 147-99-4 record with six conference championships.
“I am extremely excited about Ab joining our sports team,” Mark Bertig, vice president and general manager of Renda Broadcasting, said. “Although the Blairsville School District is not as good as it was with Mr. Dettorre on the faculty and as football coach, we certainly are confident he will be a great fit to our broadcasts. I’ve always had great respect and admiration for what he did for Blairsville on so many fronts, being a major part of the fabric of the community. We’ll see where this takes us, but we feel as if there will be other opportunities for him as well to contribute. I know he still has a lot to give to the youth of our region.”
Dettorre retired as the Bobcats coach on June 6, just days after he announced he had retired from his physical education teaching job from the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District after 35? years.
“I’m looking forward to this, and I think it will be a lot of fun,” Dettorre said. “I’m not apprehensive at all. I’ve never been shy about talking. I’ve had plenty of experience discussing the team (on the radio). ... It’s going to be a neat transition, and I think we’ll do a good job.”
ACADEMY GRAD: Ligonier Valley quarterback Scott Fennell and 1,200 other high school football players traveled to Nicholls State University in Thibodauux, La., this summer to participate in the 18th annual Manning Passing Academy.
The camp, hosted by Archie, Cooper, Peyton and Eli Manning, is one of the most prestigious in the country and focuses on developing the skills of quarterbacks, running backs and receivers in grades 8 through 12.
“He’s been fantastic working in the offseason,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “He’s been doing stuff from the spring, all summer long, and it’s really shown in the different camps he’s been to and the attention he’s gotten. He opened some eyes this summer.”
Fennell attended the camp from July 11-14, and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M was his coach. Manziel didn’t finish his stay as a counselor after sleeping through some meetings and sessions. A statement released by the academy said Manziel “did participate in some activities” before leaving a day early.
Beitel hopes to use Fennell’s experience as a launching point for the 2013 season.
“We don’t have some of the guys back from last year, but we do have Scott Fennell,” he said. “We’d be crazy not to start there and build our way out.”
THE HEAT IS ON: In the spring, the PIAA adopted a three-day heat acclimatization policy to help high school players deal with the hot temperatures during the early part of the football season.
Schools had the choice of starting the program Aug. 7 or 12 and had to wear helmets, shoulder pads and shorts for two days and full gear on the third day. Every player on every team in the state had to participate.
Teams that started the heat acclimatization on Aug. 7 were allowed to start full contact on Aug. 12, but players were forced to be there three extra days. And teams that started Aug. 12 couldn’t practice with full contact until Aug. 14, losing two days of contact.
“We actually lost a couple kids because they were either going on vacation or didn’t want to be there three days early,” Beitel said. “It’s kind of like a lose-lose situation. (The PIAA) has the right idea by doing this, but it is frustrating.”
The guidelines state that the practices are limited to five hours daily, and practice sessions may be no longer than three hours with two hours of rest in between. The ironic part of the program was that it was only in the low- to mid-70s in western Pennsylvania at the time when the teams were supposed to be acclimating to the heat. It is expected to be in the mid-80s on Friday.
“It wasn’t even that hot out while we were doing it,” Beitel said. “And there’s something exciting about the first Monday of practice, and the heat acclimatization kind of took that away.”
MAN DOWN: Derry has already lost one of its most valuable players, 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior Sal DeCario.
DeCario, a two-way starter the last two seasons, partially tore his meniscus during a preseason scrimmage. The injury required surgery and will keep DeCario out for four to six weeks.
He was expected to play fullback and tailback in a multiple-I offense. Defensively, he was slated to move from inside linebacker to defensive tackle.
DeCario suffered a season-ending injury in a Week 3 loss to Knoch last year.
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE: Even with just a small cluster of seniors, Blairsville thumped Marion Center, 43-20, in the 2012 season opener.
The bulk of the Bobcats’ starters from last year’s team are back, including junior quarterback Scott Thompson and junior running back Deion Robinson.
In last year’s opener, Thompson ran for three touchdowns and threw for another. He not only finished 6 of 9 passing for 105 yards and no interceptions, he also rushed for 89 yards on 13 attempts. Robinson scored two rushing touchdowns, caught a pass for 24 yards and finished with 48 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Seventeenth-year Marion Center head coach Dave Malicky admitted that shutting down the duo of Thompson and Robinson may seem out of the question, but containing them remains a realistic goal.
“Coach (Rick) Artley has been calling a great offense down there for 15 years,” Malicky said. “They always put points on the board and they always spread you out and make you work. They have so many different sets, and when they put Thompson back in the gun with Robinson not so far away, it’s basically like having two ball carriers back there. Thompson is just a horse. He’s 200-plus pounds with speed. You’re not going to get many good hits on him. You’re basically going to have to run him down. And Robinson, he’s got tremendous speed and he really knows how to hit the seams. … We definitely plan to limit them. It’s too hard to stop a pair of threats like that so you can only plan on limiting them.”