Greensburg Salem football works through growing pains
A record may indicate how a team fared during the season, but it doesn’t tell the complete story.
That was the case for the Greensburg Salem football team this year.
The Golden Lions (3-6, 2-6) finished eighth in the Greater Allegheny Conference but were able to make significant strides in the mission of building a successful and sustainable program.
“The best part of the season was that the kids understand they are good enough to win our conference,” coach Dave Keefer said. “We were in a lot of football games and had an opportunity to win football games. We had an opportunity to go 3-0, but we didn’t do enough to get to that point.
“If anything, our kids have a better understanding on how to compete in our conference. I think we accomplished a lot of things, such as the sense of togetherness and the team aspect of it. We accomplished a lot of things, but people didn’t see it on paper. We look to build on it for next year.”
The biggest win of the season came right out of the gate against perennial playoff qualifier Gateway, which dropped down to Class AAA. The Golden Lions prevailed 9-6 in overtime thanks to a 21-yard field goal by sophomore Ryan Collette.
“It’s daring to say, but I think it might have been too big of a win,” Keefer said. “It might be our Achilles heel since I think we got a little bit complacent and satisfied that we won Week 1. I thought we were in a position to beat Knoch or compete with them. I think it played with our focus, and we want to develop an understanding on how to win.
“You can’t get too high, and you can’t get too low. Obviously, it was a big win. But the fact Gateway has been a dominant team in years past, I think we lost focus. I think that win has a lot to do with the fact the kids have the confidence that they can win in this conference.”
The Golden Lions beat Yough, 27-7, Oct. 3 and nonconference opponent Uniontown, 35-21, Oct. 24 in the final week of the season.
Greensburg Salem will return nine players who started at least one game on defense. The Golden Lions will look for continued growth from junior defender Sean Dean and sophomore Teegan Hahn.
On offense, the Golden Lions will return their leading rusher, junior running back Connor Forkey.
“Expectations are high every year,” Keefer. “We are trying to develop a program where we don’t see a big fluctuation of talent. Sometimes you get those superior groups of kids that come through the program but have a drop off. We have high expectations, and our goal is to make the playoffs. If you clinch a playoff spot from our conference, you have a pretty good chance with making it through the first round of the playoffs.
“We need to double our wins. That is our objective and the expectations, which don’t change. We don’t change the standard from year to year. We set the standard and expectation in practice and in games. We are a better practice team, but we have room for improvement. They are starting to play to end of the bell.”
Andrew John is a freelance writer.