Falcons see Catty as much improved
Salisbury’s football team took a big step last season in qualifying for the District 11 playoffs.
This season the Falcons want even more. And the quest for a return to the postseason begins Friday night against an up-and-coming Catasauqua team.
“They’re much improved from last year,” said Falcon head coach Tony Cerco. “They’re bigger up front. They’re faster. They’re more disciplined. They’ve done a great job at Catasauqua in taking those kids from where they were at when coach (Phil) Dorn arrived to where they are now. They’re a much better team.”
After a few seasons as the Colonial League’s dominant team, the Rough Riders have struggled the past two seasons, including last year’s 1-10 overall record last year and a 3-8 mark in 2014. Like the Falcons, Catasauqua will look to take a step forward this season.
Receivers Corey Raysely and Ryan Greene will lead a wide-open offense.
With just one scrimmage tape on the opponent, Cerco and his staff only have limited knowledge of this year’s Rough Riders.
“We’re kind of anticipating what they’re going to do and go from there,” he said. “It is what it is. Everyone in the state is doing the same thing.”
Salisbury has an experienced defensive unit led by returning linemen Mike Killiri, Jaxon Costello and Eric Frankenfield, and linebackers Augie D’Ancona and CJ Wittman.
Salisbury will unveil a new offensive look this season. Offensive coordinator Dave Brown spent a week in the offseason commuting to Annapolis to learn the flexbone offense at Navy. And the entire Salisbury staff spent a few days at West Point learning Army’s version of the scheme.
They’ll play a large group of running backs and could utilize a two quarterback system this season with both Lucas Irwin and Cameron Vaka getting reps as the signal caller but also staying on the field when they’re playing quarterback.
A running back by committee and an experienced offensive line will help the Falcons maintain a potent offense. Last season the team scored over 20 points in nine of its 10 regular season games and eclipses 30 points in six of those contests.
The Falcons look to pick up where they left off last season. They finished 2015 regular season with three straight wins to post a 7-3 regular season record and earn a District 11 Class AA playoff spot. They fell to Northwestern in the first round of districts.
This year their objective is to return to the postseason and get at least one win. They’ll play in Class 3A this season as the PIAA increased the number of football classifications from four to six.
“They set goals,” said Cerco. “The short-term goal is to beat Catasauqua in Week 1. Their long term goal is to get a district win. Last year we qualified for district playoffs. Now we want to qualify and win a game.”
Another goal for the team is to keep alive the memory of assistant coach Andy Doran, who died of a heart attack last year at age 33.
“I asked our players to design a t-shirt,” Said Cerco. “Our offensive coordinator passed in the winter. They wanted to make [the shirt] commemorative of him. The slogan on the back says ‘Continue what we started’ and it says ‘Coach Doran on the bottom. They want to do it for him.”