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La Salle-Peru senior quarterback Colby Sassano rears back for a pass during the Cavaliers’ opening practice Wednesday at L-P. Sassano is one of several area quarterbacks battling for a starting position this season.
La Salle-Peru football coach Joe Sassano is looking for another coach this fall. One who can coach from the field.
After losing three-year starting quarterback Zack Cinotto to graduation, this preseason Sassano is holding a quarterback competition.
“Obviously, the first and foremost thing we are looking for is somebody who can control and take charge of the overall offense on the field,” Sassano said. “The quarterback has to be the coach on the field. He has to know where everybody lines up and what everybody is supposed to do. He has to be able to understand defenses and understand our expectations for what we’re trying to do.”
Sassano’s search, however, is far from the only one in the area.
Graduation hit the NewsTribune’s football teams hard as six local squads lost starting quarterbacks and some — like L-P — are still in the middle of quarterback competitions.
It’s a tricky time for both coaches — who spend all summer and preseason evaluating their QBs — as well as players, who have spent the last two months being evaluated with the hopes of becoming the coach on the field.
“It’s exciting to know that you have a shot to be the quarterback,” Cavalier junior quarterback Cam Mignone said, “but at the same time, it’s pretty nerve-wracking.” For many area programs, summer camps and 7-on-7 scrimmages provided a starting ground for evaluations.
Some programs already have their new quarterbacks in place, while others are still holding competitions.
“Being in a competition helps push you a lot more because all summer you don’t know whether you have that spot or not,” said L-P senior quarterback Colby Sassano, who is Joe Sassano’s son. “Not knowing if it’s your job or not forces you to just have to go that much harder because you know that at any moment it could be the other guy’s chance (to prove himself). You just have to always treat (your reps) like it’s your last chance.”
Over the summer, both Colby Sassano and Mignone split reps in practices and 7-on-7 passing drills.
“This is going to be Year 7 for me and I’ve had two three-year starters in the program, so this will be only the third starting quarterback we’ve had because we had Sam Renk for 2 1/2 years and Zack Cinotto for 2 1/2 years,” Joe Sassano said. “I’ve gone into the last two seasons pretty much knowing who my starter was going to be. But this year, there’s no experience and the position is up in the air.” It’s also a unique situation for the Sassanos with Joe trying to fairly evaluate both Colby and Mignone.
However, he will have some assistance in making the final decision.
“One thing I have is a pretty good coaching staff who I involve in a lot of the decisions,” Joe Sassano said. “So if I feel like I might be impartial — whether it is for (Colby) or so critical that I don’t want to favor him — I ask the other guys what their opinions are, and I value their opinions. It’s not just my opinion. Our whole staff gets involved in deciding positions and who starts.”
Joe Sassano is also relying on what he learned during his time at Penn High School, the Indiana school that he left in 2007 to come to L-P.
At Penn, he saw sons of a handful of coaches compete for starting positions, including the head coach’s son being the starting quarterback in 1995.
“I got to see and witness three guys coaching their sons, and one thing I learned was when you’re out on the football field, you’re a coach and it’s a player-coach relationship,” Joe Sassano said. “When you leave the playing field and go home, it’s a father-son relationship. We leave football at school and we leave home at home, and I don’t bring the job home with me.”
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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