West Xtra: Fort Cherry's Kobrys is off to a quick start

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As far as season debuts go, it will be tough to top Koltan Kobrys' from Friday night.

A Fort Cherry senior, Kobrys returned the opening kickoff of his team's 2013 season 99 yards for a touchdown.

Kobrys, a 5-foot-8, 165-pounder, did not stop there. He rushed for 215 yards on 13 carries and the Rangers needed just about every yard as they held off Carlynton, 46-31, in a back-and-forth game.

More import than Kobrys' 99-yard kickoff return or 57-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was that he left the game healthy. His junior season was derailed by injuries.

In the third week of last season against Monessen, Kobrys was forced out of the game in the first half with a back injury. At the time Fort Cherry was 2-0 and Kobrys had already topped 100 yards rushing against Monessen in a 14-14 game. Monessen would go on to win, 49-20.

Kobrys returned to the team in a limited capacity the following week just playing receiver. Then in Week 6, Kobrys sustained a broken hand and was out for the season. Fort Cherry finished the season 3-6 and missed the WPIAL playoffs in the first year under coach Jim Shiel.

"We are multi-faceted with him in there," Shiel said. "He is so quick and he runs hard. He can run between the tackles and outside. He is a good receiver, too. We are trying to use him more in that slot position, we are not just using him at tailback."

Kobrys is a four-year starter. He played his freshman year at Avella before transferring to Fort Cherry as a sophomore.

Fort Cherry will need a healthy Kobrys if it wants to compete in the tough Black Hills Conference. After a game against California this Friday, the Rangers play Monessen, Brentwood and Clairton in a three-week span.

"Our conference is brutal," Shiel said. "It will be a battle every week. Monessen is really strong -- they have more running backs than they know what to do with. They all run well."

Kobrys is one of many options in a dynamic Fort Cherry offense that features a returning starter at quarterback in Matt Heslin and a collegiate prospect in 6-2, 220-pound tight end Zach Dysert. Heslin had three touchdown passes in the win against Carlynton.

Dysert, 6-2 junior receiver Alex Babirad and 6-1 freshman receiver Scott Miller provide a good complement to Kobrys.

"What I like about this season, we have a lot of other options," Shiel said. "We have a quarterback who is a returning starter and we have a couple tall, nice receivers."

Shiel said Babirad is just as fast as Kobrys.

After playing almost exclusively as a tight end last season, Dysert will see time in the slot receiver position. When Fort Cherry wants to spread it out, Dysert and Kobrys will line up in the slot with Babirad and Smith out wide.

"Logistically at times it is a headache," Shiel said. "You have to make sure you have the right personnel in the game. It can be a logistical nightmare but the options are there."

Fort Cherry can get the ball to Kobrys a number of ways through the running or passing game.

"He is a pretty good receiver, too," Shiel said. "We throw to him on bubble screens and we throw it downfield. He can outrun just about anybody. We bring him in motion and give it to him on the jet sweep sometimes and sometimes we just line him up in the backfield."

Heslin hooked up with Miller, Babirad and Dysert on touchdown passes on Friday night.

Defensively, Kobrys is just as versatile. He can play a mix between a strong safety and linebacker. When he moves up to linebacker, the Fort Cherry 4-3 defense becomes a 4-4.

"Unfortunately in Class A, just about everyone goes both ways," Shiel said. "We try to give him a break on defense and it hurts [the team] sometimes. I am certain if he was on defense a couple times [on Friday night] we may have held Carlynton to 14 points."

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