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Villarrial Teaching The Fundamentals at St. Francis
Building a football program is similar to building a home in that a foundation is essential to success.
Chris Villarrial has started his first season as head coach of the St. Francis University Red Flash by focusing in spring drills on the base of what he hopes will be a successful program.
Villarrial, a former IUP standout who was an NFL lineman for 11 seasons, was named head coach of the Red Flash in December.
“I went back to teaching the guys fundamental football: Blocking, tackling, and learning how to play basic fundamental football,” Villarrial said prior to conducting practice last week.
“We’re going back to (former Green Bay Packers coach) Vince Lombardi, the basic fundamentals of football.”
During the 2009 season, Villarrial served as the Red Flash offensive coordinator for previous coach Dave Opfar, who resigned after compiling a 17-68 record in eight seasons.
The Red Flash went 2-9 record last year.
Villarrial has energetically recruited in his first season, and he is pleased with the 34 recruits that he has thus far. The recruits hail from as close as Portage to as far away as Hawaii.
Included in that group are eight area athletes: Offensive linemen Colin Gdula (Forest Hills) and Matt Glass (Penn Cambria); running backs Mike Sinosky (Portage) and Zak Newton (Penn Cambria); quarterbacks Zach Glessner (Forest Hills) and Jon Siciliano (Johnstown); receiver Dane Domonkos (Bishop McCort); and linebacker Brandt Beck (Cambria Heights).
Siciliano will play wide receiver for the Flash, and Villarrial said that Newton could see action on both sides of the ball.
Villarrial said that he is very pleased with the recruiting class, explaining that he and his staff have “stolen” some athletes from Division I programs.
In addition, Villarrial has hired Ralph Clark as his defensive coordinator and has elevated Ralph DeSardo to the position of offensive coordinator.
Clark, who coached last season at Northeastern, is installing a new defensive scheme, while DeSardo will direct a multiple offensive attack, using some West Coast offensive schemes.
DeSardo has served as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for the past three seasons.
Villarrial is focusing on one aspect of the team at present.
“The biggest thing that we are looking for right now is depth,” he said. “We are looking at every position, and we want competition at every position. No one has a true starter role.”
The Red Flash have a challenging Football Championship Subdivision schedule, with only four home games and seven on the road. The schedule includes a trip to California on Oct. 30 to play Cal Poly, a full-scholarship program that has produced 27 NFL players.
By Hugh Conrad, The Tribune-Democrat