Vince Bedesem had a bit of a defensive dilemma heading into the 2011 season.
The head football coach at Council Rock South High in Holland Pa., returned a preseason all-state defensive end in P.J. Gallo, but needed to address a linebacker corps that desperately needed strengthening. Before the Golden Hawks’ season opener, Bedesem decided to move Gallo back to inside linebacker. The Maryland-bound tight end was on board with the move “right away.”
“He’s a kid who’s just as likely to be the MVP as he is the Unsung Hero,” Bedesem said. “He didn’t even tiptoe around [the position change]. We posed the challenge to him and he said, ‘Great, let’s go.’ I think he’s going to do that when he gets to Maryland. He’s just going to have all these challenges put upon him, and he’s going to embrace them right away. Moving him just aided the defensive perspective of the game. It’s a big difference when you have your hand down than when you’re standing up, doing all kinds of stuff. In my eyes, he’s an all-state linebacker, too. It was just a great, great year for us defensively.”
Bedesem said his new defensive end played “real well,” and Gallo turned in a senior season worthy of first-team all-state recognition. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound player finished the year with 144 tackles, seven pass breakups, seven quarterback hurries, six tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks. With Gallo manning an inside linebacker spot in Council Rock South’s 4-4 alignment, Bedesem said his defense “improved tenfold.”
“The nice thing about it is he’s going to Maryland to play tight end,” Bedesem said, “but I tell [Terps tight ends] coach [John] Dunn all the time that ‘you better be careful. If the defensive guys take a sniff of his senior film, they might be coming after him for defense.’ He had 25 scholarship offers to do that. Again, it shows just how much versatility he has. Some schools were looking at him as a defensive end type, others looked at him for outside linebacker, and others thought inside linebacker. There were multiple positions that he was being recruited for while the process was going on.”
On the other side of the ball, Gallo saw much less action. Council Rock South runs a triple-option offense that Bedesem said is similar to what the service academics and Georgia Tech run. Gallo spent most of his time offensively lining up next to the right tackle and paving the way for the Golden Hawks’ explosive rushing attack. Council Rock South (12-2) prided itself on being a “power football team,” and Gallo’s role in establishing that identity was crucial. The future Terp did see some time as a pass catcher.
“Offensively, we don’t throw the ball much – that’s no secret. But when we do, we go to him – and that’s no secret, either,” said Bedesem, who noted that Gallo caught 14 passes for 185 yards. “We have a multi-faceted quarterback, a great athlete who can run the option. But the passing capabilities are just really limited, and like I said, we didn’t have to do a lot of throwing. But when we did, we put [Gallo] outside, put him in the slot a little bit, and also gave him a little taste of how he is probably going to be used in college within the next four or five years.”
Bedesem said Gallo, a unanimous selection for team captain, took the Golden Hawks’ 34-14 loss to North Penn in the state semifinals hard, but the future Terp also put it in proper perspective. It was hard to see his high school career come to an end, but it was a successful season overall and Gallo had plenty of promising football-related activities on the horizon.
“He’s looking forward to the next level now,” Bedesem said. “He’s very excited about where Maryland football is going to be headed. Maryland people might not be looking at it record-wise, but Coach [Randy] Edsall and his staff have laid a big foundation. It’s the type of thing they’re building, and there are going to be good things to come for them.”