Season recap: Sal Conaboy
For three of Joe Repshis' five seasons as Abington Heights (Pa.) High’s football coach, Sal Conaboy has been there to do whatever has been asked of him.
In 2007, Repshis brought the sophomore tight end up to the varsity squad. The following season, with the Comets needing help on the offensive line, Conaboy made the move to guard without any complaints. This fall, the Maryland commitment returned for his senior year as Abington Heights’ unquestioned leader on the line.
“With another year under his belt, he had a great deal of confidence and had a great year,” Repshis said. “He worked very hard, came back bigger, stronger, faster and he understood offensive line play much better. He had a phenomenal year.”
Abington Heights finished the season 11-2, winning conference and district championships before falling in the first round of the Pennsylvania AAA playoffs. Conaboy was named first-team all-conference and first-team all-region, with other honors likely to follow in the coming weeks. While he may have been more potential than production as a junior who just made the switch to offensive line, Conaboy played like a seasoned veteran this year.
“He’s very athletic, has very good feet and is very quick,” Repshis said. “He can pull and trap very well, he gets to the next level and is very active. He’s going to play until that whistle blows.”
At 6-5, 255 pounds, Conaboy will likely need to add weight and strength before he’s ready to make an impact in college. But depending on what he does between now and his arrival in College Park, Conaboy could be given a chance to work his way into contention for playing time.
“They’re looking at him to come in and compete as a freshman, possibly as a guard or center -- the interior part of the line,” Repshis said. “It’s too early to tell exactly how he’ll be able to contribute, but they do want him to come in and compete. And that’s all he’s looking for. What happens when he steps on campus that first year is yet to be determined. But he will go into the offseason preparing for the opportunity to play.”
In the days following the conclusion of Maryland’s 2-10 season, speculation about Ralph Friedgen’s future played out in the media. One recruiting analyst suggested that Conaboy could be a target of rival recruiters looking to flip any Terps commitments. But according to Repshis, as long as Friedgen and the rest of UM’s coaching staff returned, Conaboy was set on the Terps.
“Sal was very adamant about the fact that he and his family made a decision he felt very comfortable with and he made the right decision based on all the facts presented to him,” Repshis said. “He didn’t really pay much attention to [speculation over Friedgen’s status]. Give him credit for being more focused on our team and what we have to do. He didn’t want that stuff to be a distraction. ... He didn’t pay attention to things being said in the media about there possibly being a [coaching change]. So he’s 100 percent committed to Maryland.”
When Conaboy made the move to offensive guard two seasons ago, he did it for “the betterment of the team,” according to Repshis. Repshis expects his star lineman to make similar sacrifices -- and potentially have similar success -- when he suits up for Maryland.
“He brings size, athleticism, a great work ethic and is very coachable,” Repshis said. “He has all the things you need to be a very good football player at the next level. It’s been a pleasure to see him have the opportunity to develop. ... I’m very excited to watch him play the next few years at Maryland.”