Meadville Tribune

Breaking News


August 19, 2013

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Quarterback, linebacker among may questions Gators face before Sept. 7 season opener

MEADVILLE — Ready or not, Sept. 7 is less than three weeks away.

Experienced football teams relish the 24 practices during training camp allotted to Division III schools, eager to fine tune a few areas and gear up for the first game of the season.

The 2013 Allegheny Gators are not one of those teams.

“I wish Sept. 7 would come three months from now,” 12th year head coach Mark Matlak said about his youthful Gators squad.

That’s not to say that the Gators don’t have high expectations. It’s simply a matter of being just four days into training camp with players void of anything but a helmet and shoulder pads.

It’s safe to say there are still a few wrinkles to iron out. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of time to do it in.

“It’s been just four days. You can’t see much in shorts,” Matlak said. “Football isn’t played in shorts.”

An overcast afternoon played host to the Gators’ final practice before full contact begins today. Just under 80 players walked through drills, literally taking the first steps in what appears to be a rebuilding year for Allegheny.

The Gators, who were 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference a season ago, have more than enough upside thanks to the return of 14 starters. Unfortunately, none of those starters plays quarterback.

The race to find out who will be taking snaps under center when Allegheny hosts Kenyon opening day begins now, as multiple signal callers took snaps with the first team offense Monday. Sophomore Joe Dawida seems to have the inside track to become the starterafter playing in six games last season, completing 44 of 73 attempts.

Dawida has the most experience of any of the candidates, which include junior Stephen Nymick, and sophomores Tanner Allen and Kyle Smith.

But this early in camp, Matlak’s response as to whether one of the four quarterbacks are a leading candidate for the opening is short and to the point: “No, absolutely not.”

“We have a lot of question marks. We need to get a lot of things squared away,” Matlak said. “Our biggest issue right now is finding a quarterback.”

With plenty of unknowns on the field, one position that looks to be secured is at tailback, as sophomore Tyler Smith is showing early on that it’s his job to lose in the backfield.

Smith is coming off an ankle injury that sidelined him late during his freshman season. Despite the injury, Smith still tallied the second most yards on the ground last year behind starter Tim Werley, who graduated.

“I really feel like we’ve got some good skill kids,” Matlak said. “I was impressed with Tyler Smith last year, but he hurt his ankle and didn’t play five games at the end of the year.”

Matlak’s praise for Smith was equaled by his feelings toward junior wide receiver Andrew Niklaus.

“I’ve always been impressed by Andrew, we just haven’t been able to get him the ball,” Matlak said.

Allegheny finished last in the league in total offense in 2012, making it a good place to start for Matlak and his coaching staff on an area to improve upon.

Improvement for the Gators isn’t confined to just the offense, as defensively, Matlak said his team needs to fill in the holes of a slew of graduated players.

Gone are Bill Devlin, Rudy DeStefano and Ryan Vietmeler, the top three leading tacklers in 2012. Together, the three tallied 230 tackles, a total that took the next seven top tacklers combined to equal.

“Good recruiting, that’s how you replace that,” Matlak said on filling the holes on defense. “That’s one of the question marks we have. The linebacker group is a muddle. We’ll see how it shakes out during camp.”

Allegheny was picked to finish fourth out of 10 teams in the NCAC preseason poll, a position that Matlak could care less about.

For Matlak, it’s a one-day-at-a-time approach, and with a young football team, it is likely the correct approach.

“It doesn’t mean anything. I think you just have to improve daily and try to get better,” Matlak said. “When the preparation is good, we’ll make some improvements, and then see success on the field. I don’t take much stock in (the preseason poll).

While Matlak works to figure out just how his roster will shake down, the one constant with all of his Allegheny teams is developing a committed squad.

Once the Gators buy in to Matlak’s direction, which is inevitable, the true success for the team will show.

“The big thing for me is creating a culture of effort and commitment,” Matlak said. “I’m not going to watch the scoreboard so much, as we need a committed effort from our football team. If we get that, we’ll get better, and the results will show.”

The Gators have 19 practices left to make that happen.

Text Only
  • SLIDESHOW: A look back at the 2003 World Series team

    Click image for slideshow

    With the D1 team heading to this year's World Series we thought it would be fun to look back at the 2003 team who went to Kentucky.

    July 31, 2014

  • Haley Wise District 1 claims spot in Senior League World Series

    District 1 will represent the East in the Senior League Softball World Series which begins Sunday in Sussex County, Delaware.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • District 1 District 1 girls enjoy day off

    It was a tense day for many of the teams participating in the Senior League Softball East Regional Tournament on Wednesday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hawley scores District 1 finishes off dominant pool performance by trouncing New Jersey

    Pitchers often get the most credit in shutout victories. And Emma Osborne, Katy Dunn and Emily Beddick have certainly been deserving for District 1.
    Its defense, though, has been equally deserving.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sliding into second District 1 remains unbeaten after two routs

    Becca Siple’s response to a question on Twitter may have said it all.
    “Best experience of my life,” Siple said, when asked by The Meadville Tribune via Twitter to describe her experience thus far at the Senior League Softball East Regional Tournament. Following her response was the hashtag #D1isfamily.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers camp Steelers LB Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.
    Spence almost gleefully smashed into fullback Bryce Davis during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first full contact drill of training camp on Monday. The two tussled for several seconds before Davis — his fists full of Spence’s jersey — pulled them both to the ground.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • District 1 dominates at East Regional

    Outscoring its opponents 32-0, District 1 moved to 3-0 at the Senior League Softball East Regional Tournament on Monday with a pair of wins.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kissing the bricks Gordon wins at Indy for record 5th time

    With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again.
    Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight days before his 43rd birthday and on the weekend Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first Brickyard victory.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Roethlisberger OK with choice to wait on new deal

    There are days when Ben Roethlisberger can feel every single hit he’s absorbed during a decade as one of the NFL’s most fearless quarterbacks.
    And there are days when the Pittsburgh Steelers star sees the young faces surrounding him in the huddle and it seems like he can play forever.

    July 26, 2014

  • Teen doping Survey: Teens experimenting with HGH on the rise

    Michael Guerreri wanted to try human growth hormones so he could look like a pro wrestler. Joe Badalanato hoped HGH would help him become a better football player. James O’Brien figured the drug would improve his fastball.
    The three 18-year-olds from suburban Philadelphia told The Associated Press this week that they bought bottles of HGH online in the past year. Turns out, what they bought was fake.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Sports Scoreboard
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Business Marquee
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN

A South Carolina woman was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The decision has created a debate over “free-range” parenting and whether it’s a good idea or not. What’s your take?

I’m fine with it. If she cannot afford childcare, what choice does she have?
This is horrible and very bad parenting.
I’m torn. It’s not right what she did, but it sounds like the mother had few other options.
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide