Frank Fabian won’t make grand declarations about the potential of Kittanning’s new spread offense.
For now, the first-year coach wants the Wildcats to have faith in the system.
Embracing the unfamiliar is a priority for Kittanning, which enters the season with a different coach, playbook and classification.
The Wildcats have found no reason to resist. Two years of struggle in Class AAA made them eager to start fresh.
“With different coaches and different people, there’s a new attitude,” senior lineman Colton Toy said. “Everybody is excited for this year. Everybody has high hopes and thinks we’ll do better.”
By transitioning from a Wing-T offense to the spread, Fabian, the coach at Redbank Valley the previous two seasons, has placed greater emphasis on Kittanning’s passing game.
And he realizes how much pressure rests on senior quarterback Kevin Barnes.
Barnes served as a backup quarterback the past two seasons, and spent time at wide receiver. But a dedicated offseason helped transform him into the leader of Kittanning’s up-tempo, read-heavy offense.
“It’s not as bad as what I thought it was going to be,” Barnes said.
“But there are still a lot of things to learn. Too many calls. There are like three or four calls before each play. … Everything has to be analyzed before each play.”
Barnes will throw to what might be one of Class AA’s tallest receiving corps. Seniors Sterling Henry, Vince Mead and Mitch Pirhalla each stand several inches over 6 feet — Mead is the tallest, with a listed height of 6-foot-6. And sophomore Nick Bowers is another 6-footer who will line up wide.
The Wildcats hope to put far more points on the board than they did last season, when they averaged 15.2 per game during a 1-8 campaign.
But, like Fabian, the players aren’t looking at the spread as a solution to all of Kittanning’s troubles.
“We’re all looking forward to it,” Mead said, “but it’s still going to be tough. We can’t just expect to win every game. We have to work hard.”