Summit Academy’s Becoate navigating unpredictable circumstances
SUMMIT TWP — Anthony Becoate’s job doesn’t resemble that of most other high school football coaches.
His roster turns over annually. A portion of the players haven’t worn pads before. Yet, even with a revolving door, he still expects for his bunch to be competitive.
“Simply put, the cards are stacked against me,” said Becoate, Summit Academy’s second-year coach. “But, it’s not discouraging.”
The Knights have 27 kids this year, but don’t bring back a single contributor. Unlike those who lead his team’s WPIAL Section 4-1A foes, Becoate doesn’t get the chance to watch a wide-eyed freshman develop into a standout performer by his senior go-round.
“Those kids are there from ninth grade to 12th grade,” he said of traditional high school teams. “Most of these guys are in our program for six months, then they’re out the door and it’s a whole new group of faces coming in. ... That’s a disadvantage that we have, just trying to fast-track that to get us team chemistry.”
Last season’s team — which finished 1-9 — was behind the eight-ball in terms of prior competitive gridiron exposure.
“This year, I would say it’s a little bit deeper,” Becoate said. “We might have 12 to 13 kids that actually have football experience. I think last year it was, like, five. That’s what we’ve got to deal with. This group, I feel, is a little more experienced with football — a lot of them have some football background.”
Watching game tape from last fall, this group expressed that it wouldn’t like to look the same. In its nine losses, the 2022 edition was outscored 471-60. An 18-14 non-conference win over Springdale was the lone bright spot, snapping a dozen-game skid.
“What that does for the kids, you can’t even explain it,” Becoate said of that rewarding victory. “I went into the locker room after the game, and they dumped water on me like we won the Super Bowl. That is what makes me happy, seeing things like that.
“(I’m) trying to teach them football, but also trying to teach them life while doing it.”
Becoate feels like this team’s ceiling is higher than its predecessor’s.
“What we’re doing differently this year is trying to challenge them more,” he said. “I felt like we underachieved last year as a coaching staff with not trying to get more out of them. It’s like we knew that we had inexperience, so we accepted that. This year, we’re not accepting that.”
Becoate will assume play-calling duties this season, taking that responsibility from Brison Twyman.
“Obviously, it’s not going to be the triple option from McKeesport, but we’re going to be able to pass the ball a little bit this year,” Becoate said.
Last fall, the Knights had only one pass-catcher that demonstrated adept fluidity. He was discharged from the program halfway through the schedule.
“That’s what I mean as far as curve balls,” Becoate explained. “We have some kids that go on home pass. We have kids that discharge and don’t even make it through the whole season. It’s always a learning curve for us.”
Nevertheless, Becoate wants to shrug off the uncertainties and surprise some of his counterparts.
“We’re just looking forward to creating our own history this year, as far as our standards and what we expect,” he said. “I genuinely believe this team should be a 180 (turn) compared to last year.”