Last Updated: Mon Feb 13, 2023 - 4:29PM
A new chapter has begun in Greater Latrobe football, as the Wildcats enjoyed a historic season this past fall. After capturing their first playoff win in over 50 years and having a winning season for the first time since 2011, the Wildcats caught the eyes of many in the WPIAL.
A big part of that success this year was the run game, led by senior running back Robby Fulton who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. But those alleyways and lanes that were open for Fulton were carved out by the strong offensive line up front, guided by senior Daniel Calabrace.
The versatile lineman was a standout for the Wildcats and first-year head coach Ron Prady this past year. Calabrace made enough of an impression to catch the eyes of college coaches, and he made his commitment to play for St. Vincent College.
“I feel like the PAC was the place to go for me,” said the soon-to-be Bearcat on making the decision to play in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. “It came down to my decision with the coaches. The St. Vincent coaches are like the coaches at Latrobe. They just want to bring a PAC championship to St. Vincent."
It wasn’t just the Bearcats staff who Calabrace caught the eye of, but also the NFL Network. It was during a play in Latrobe’s game against Trinity that Calabrace made a perfectly executed tackle near the line of scrimmage.
The play was nominated by Hudl for the NFL Way to Play Award, for which he was ultimately named the recipient. Calabrace had his play analyzed by NFL analyst Brian Baldinger, and it earned the Wildcats program a choice between $3,000 dollars for equipment or a state-of-the-art robotic tackling dummy.
“I was really surprised because I saw it (the play) on Hudl,” Calabrace noted on how he found out about being named the winner of the prestigious honor. “I woke up one morning and got a text I was on Good Morning Football, and I was super shocked and excited.
“I wasn’t sure which coach nominated me for the award,” he added. “You can’t nominate yourself for that type of award. I’m grateful for that award.”
Ultimately, Calabrace and the team decided on the robotic tackling dummy.
“I think the tackling dummy will help our team a lot, especially with keeping up with the faster guys and reading how fast guys are,” the St. Vincent commit mentioned. “Guys won’t hurt each other anymore either, laying into each other all practice. It’ll help their bodies a little more.”
That thinking for the future of Wildcats football will suit him well as he prepares to become a Bearcat in the fall. With football workouts relatively quiet right now, Calabrace is still focusing on summer camp and getting ready for the next level.
“You just got to keep working, because I want to start my freshman year,” Calabrace noted on what his workout plan is right now in the offseason. “I’m going to work until I know I’ll be able to make an impact. Just make sure I keep going and not stop.”
As he prepares for the next journey in his football career and life, Calabrace finds himself being appreciative for not just the opportunity to play at the college level, but to also have the chance to earn a college degree.
“Not many people go out and get one (college education),’’ he shared. “Many people just join the workforce right out of high school. Getting a college education and playing college ball is an amazing feeling.”