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GCC football team builds for future with playoff campaign

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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
Jeannette's Zack Altieri rushes around Greensburg Central Catholic's Killian Joseph on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, at McKee Stadium in Jeannette.

Heading into the 2014 season, the Greensburg Central Catholic football team faced a considerable amount of uncertainty.

The Centurions were concerned with how the team would replace offensive playmakers who graduated and how the program would fare in its first season in the Class A Eastern Conference after moving down from Class AA.

GCC responded by going 5-3 in its new conference — 5-5 overall — and secured a playoff berth. The team’s postseason run ended with a first-round exit at the hands of No. 3 seed Neshannock, yet GCC coach Dan Mahoney said the experience his young squad collected could pay dividends.

“We made the playoffs and things like that, but we obviously didn’t achieve the goals that we wanted to attain and we’re a little disappointed in how we finished,” Mahoney said. “We didn’t end the way we would’ve liked to. But I think we did some things that we can build on for next year. So we’re looking forward to the future.”

Mahoney expects junior quarterback Tom Pellis, who turned in a steady performance in his first full season, to keep improving.

“He did well at managing the offense and staying in control of things,” Mahoney said. “We’ll look for him to keep getting better, keep improving in the offseason, and we’ll go from there.”

Juniors Brian Pevarnik and Sam Nowicki filled voids in the team’s offense. Pervarnik rushed for 598 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Nowicki gained 417 yards and scored six TDs.

Another junior, J.P. Pellis, led the team in receiving with 17 catches for 234 yards and a touchdown. Junior Jake Weis made significant contributions for GCC at tight end and defensive end.

Though the team will graduate stalwart center Jake Wallace, along with other seniors, a talented junior class has Mahoney optimistic about his team’s future.

“All of them were playing their first full season, and they contributed well,” Mahoney said. “We have a strong junior class, and we’ll be looking for bigger and better things from them next season.”

While Greensburg Central Catholic went 5-0 against teams that did not qualify for the playoffs this season, it went 0-4 against teams that did qualify for postseason play. The difficult schedule certainly tested Mahoney’s team, but he believes it will only serve to make them stronger.

“There’s a lot of good players in Class A and our conference was definitely tough, but we look forward to that challenge,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking forward to building on in the offseason. That’s what motivates us.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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