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Knoch prepares for season of change

The Knoch High School football team. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle 08/08/22
Knights get new coach, new schedule, no home games

JEFFERSON TWP — Things have changed since Knoch last played a high school football game.

Tim Burchett is the Knights’ new head coach.

Knoch has gone from the WPIAL Class 4A classification to Class 3A.

Every game in 2022 will be played away from home as artificial turf is being installed at Knoch Stadium this fall.

“It’s a lot to take in,” senior lineman Matt Carney admitted. “But it’s exciting at the same time. We’ve got a new offense and a new defense, too. We’re pumped.”

Knoch is coming off a 2-8 season. Burchett — an assistant coach at Peters Township the past five years — succeeds Brandon Mowry as head coach. Burchett has been a teacher in the Knoch School District for a few years.

During his time at Peters Township, the Indians won three conference championships, were WPIAL Class 5A runner-up twice and reached the district semifinals another year.

“It was hard to leave there, but this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Burchett said. “I know this school district. Knoch has a lot of hard-nosed kids. They are facing a lot of change, but I’ve loved their attitude and approach.

“All these guys want to do is play hard and win.”

Jake Murphy, a standout tight end-linebacker, is enthused about playing for Burchett.

“The guy is the real deal,” Murphy said. “He comes from a winner. He was a big part of things there. Coach Burchett knows what he’s doing and we’re ready to learn his system and go with it.”

Knoch linebacker/tight end Jake Murphy, seen here tackling Central Valley’s Rylan Jeter last August, is excited to get the Knights back on track. Eagle File Photo

A triple option team in recent years, Knoch’s offense will be multiple this season. The Knights will run some spread at times.

Codi Mullen, a 5-foot-9, 155-pound sophomore, will be the quarterback. Burchett is impressed by Mullen’s demeanor.

“He already knows the entire offense and I coach offense, so I’m impressed by that,” Burchett said. “Codi is such a calm kid. He’s responded to our coaching and he can make plays.”

“I know I have to step up my game, but I’m confident I can lead the offense,” Mullen said. “We’re all together on this and I know I’ve got the support of my teammates.”

Among the running back corps are Ethan Alwine, Sam Skurko and Tony Nicolazzo. At 6-1, 230 pounds, Murphy is a big target at tight end — but won’t be the only target in the passing game.

“We’ll use Jake as a decoy quite a bit,” Burchett said. “I think Exzavier Johnson can be a star at wide receiver. Kaden Spencer, Jackson Bauman and James Snyder will be catching the football for us, too.

“Spencer is a sophomore, Bauman is a freshman, but these guys can play. Alwine is a former soccer player trying football for the first time. I love his speed. We won’t focus on any one player offensively. I believe in getting the ball into the hands of lots of kids so the defense can’t key on anybody.”

Carney, Parker Anderson and Nick Davis are mainstays on the offensive line. Davis was second-team all-conference last season.

Defensively, the Knights will play a 43. Carney, Anderson and Davis will anchor the defensive front as well, “with some younger kids filling in holes along the line on both sides of the ball,” Burchett said.

Murphy, Johnson and Bennett Shaw are linebackers while Bauman and Mullen will be among those in the secondary.

“We’ve still got some pieces to fill in,” Burchett said. “We’ll see where we stand once we line up and play against another team.”

Kickers will come from Ethan Alwine, Ty Alwine and Kannon Trofimuk. All three have soccer experience.

Sophomore Codi Mullen will start at quarterback for the Knights this season. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

“We are accentuating the positive,” Burchett said. “Moving to 3A will help this program. Our goal is getting to the playoffs, win the section ... We want to go as far as we can.”

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