It's not often that an injury actually benefits a team, and losing quarterback Josh Gallagher for part of the 2007 season certainly didn't help last year's Penn Cambria football team.
But now that Gallagher is back for the 2008 season, the development backup quarterback/running back Zak Newton gained a season ago in Gallagher's absence could make the pair a tough tandem to deal with this year.
''Last year it hurt pretty bad to see us struggle while I was out,'' Gallagher said. ''I wanted to get back in there like crazy. This year I'll use last year as motivation to do my best this year.''
Gallagher was injured during Penn Cambria's third game and the Panthers struggled to a 3-7 record, down from nine wins a season before.
With Gallagher out, Zak Newton shifted from running back to quarterback and impressed head coach Ernie Fetzer enough for the veteran coach to declare a two-quarterback offense would be in place this year to take advantage of each player's strengths both at quarterback and elsewhere.
''You look at last year, and you have to try to take advantage of the situation,'' Fezter said. ''Josh was our starting quarterback and got hurt, and Zak Newton played until Josh came back. It was then we started to use a two-quarterback system.
''As we finished the season, we played really well against Johnstown, not winning but playing extremely well [losing 36-34], and so we kind of took that and used it as our stepping stone for this season.''
When Gallagher is at quarterback, Newton will be at running back. When Newton is under center, Gallagher will line up as a wide receiver.
''They both play two different positions offensively, and we're going to try to utilize their talents in every aspect,'' Fezter said. ''Josh has a great command of the offense and is a great ball-handler. Zak is a great runner, both as a running back and in a different way as a quarterback, and they both throw the ball well so I think both bring a lot to the table.''
This will be Gallagher's third year seeing time at quarterback with the Panthers.
''I think I bring a little bit more leadership [to the quarterback position] and can look over the defense and make a little more decisions,'' Gallagher said. ''That's nothing against Zak. It's just that I have had a chance to run the offense for awhile.''
Gallagher, who is a senior, prefers to play quarterback but is excited at the prospect of being on the receiving end of some of Newton's passes.
''I feel very comfortable at the quarterback position, but Zak can do just as many things as I can if not more,'' Gallagher said. ''I think being a receiver and catching some passes here and there for awhile will be cool.''