Quarterback Reed Relosky is back at the controls of the Bishop Canevin offense this season after passing for more than 1,000 yards last year.
By Drew Karpen / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Darren Schoppe has witnessed a lot of WPIAL football in a short amount of time.
On his resume, he served as the defensive coordinator for Peters Township, South Fayette and most recently, Bishop Canevin.
It wasn't until last year that Schoppe had the opportunity to call his own shots. Schoppe endured the struggles of being a rookie coach in 2013, leading the Crusaders to a 3-7 mark in the Class A Black Hills Conference.
With the pressure of last year behind him, Schoppe is looking forward to a smooth transition into the second year of his regime.
"Just having the familiarity with the kids is a big advantage," Schoppe said. "We had a short offseason last year. We were able to work with them week in and week out and work on the system [this year]. It has been a big advantage for us.
"We are able to get into more details with our plays [this year]. They are learning the system."
With many key players returning for the Crusaders, including senior quarterback Reed Relosky, Bishop Canevin is looking to build on how the 2013 season ended when it picked up a 42-19 win against Serra Catholic at Dormont Stadium in the season finale.
"Anytime you get a win, it is a confidence booster," Schoppe said. "It was a long year but a positive end to the season. Every year is a new year and we are looking forward to moving on to this year."
With the new year comes a new set of opponents. In the offseason, the WPIAL switched the conference alignments, adding powerhouse Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic and subtracting equally powerful Clairton and Monessen in the Black Hills Conference.
"It is a very competitive conference," Schoppe said. "There are not going to be any easy games. It is going to be as competitive as any conference.
"You want to be in a good conference where you are going to be tested week in and week out."
The Crusaders first test will be Aug. 30 when they play host to Riverside of the Big Seven Conference at Dormont Stadium. Riverside competed in the Midwestern Conference last year.
If Bishop Canevin wants to be able to compete in that game and each one that follows, it is going to need to have another outstanding year from Relosky. In 2013, Relosky ranked in the top 10 in Class A with 1,203 passing yards. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was perfect with 11 touchdowns to no interceptions.
"We try to teach our quarterbacks not to take the risk," Schoppe said. "My brother, Dave, has done a tremendous job in preparing them as the quarterbacks coach. Reed knows when to take the ball and run it and throw it when he has a receiver open. He is a smart football player.
"Reed has done a great job in the offseason. He improved his arm strength. He is a faster and stronger player. He is a tremendous runner as well as passer."
Helping Relosky to stand tall in the pocket and open gaps through the defense is the offensive line, the most improved group on the team according to Schoppe.
"Our line play, offensively and defensively, has improved immensely," Schoppe said. "They have worked hard in the offseason in the weight room and it is showing so far."
With last season now history, Schoppe and the Crusaders start with a clean slate. No matter how treacherous his schedule may be, Schoppe only sees one way to have a positive outlook on the season and that's by making the WPIAL playoffs.
"Every season our goal is to compete in the playoffs and win a championship," Schoppe said. "Whether it is your first season or 40th, that should always be your goal.
"We need to compete week in and week out and be physical and smart football players."
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