High school football turns up the August heat
Photos by Mike Longo Jr.
OLSH linemen Damere Brough (left) and Ryan Farrell (right) work on blocking drills during “Heat Week” practice.
By Mike Longo Jr.
"Heat Week" is here and area high school footballers have hit the practice fields to refine their gridiron skills.
Changes abound in the WPIAL with new conferences, opponents, rule changes and playoff formats. Across the WPIAL in all, 36 teams get a fresh start with new head coaches. Gazette 2.0’s coverage area will welcome a pair.
At Sto-Rox, Marvin Mills replaces Laroi Johnson who departed for the head slot at Imani Christian. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Dan Bradley have parted ways as he moves on to assume the helm at Ellwood City. His replacement is former RMU Assistant Coach Don Militzer who steps in to captain the OLSH ship.
As our local teams embark on the 2022 campaign, Gazette 2.0 will have coverage from start to finish, with championships on the mind of every player. We'll start you off with a brief rundown of our teams and players as they chase their title dreams.
STO ROX – Not many teams have the luxury of returning nearly their entire squad from last season, however, such is the case for Sto Rox. Their only key loss from a season ago is Runningback Jay Pearson by way of graduation.
The Vikings return the best quarterback in 2A and one of the best in the entire WPIAL, Josh Jenkins. He'll seek out his two main targets, Receivers Jaymont Green-Miller and Diego Ellis. Runningback Zay Davis should more than fill the shoes of the departed Pearson as Dre Miller Ross is more than capable of anchoring the defensive side of the ball. Newcomers, Makhy Upshaw (LB) David Taravella and Coby Hale (OL) are sure to become contributors.
Bishop Canevin – After its most successful season in the school's history and a WPIAL Championship, the Crusaders are poised to repeat with the loss of only three key players from a season ago.
Canevin’s offensive line runs deep anchored by Nico Margittai and Camden Cooley, while on the defensive side of the pigskin nearly everyone returns. Linebacker Braden Torres and Tackle Jaden Collins will look to elevate their game as they lead a stingy defense.
At quaterback the Crusaders have a dynamic duo as last year's regular season starter, Jason Cross Jr. and post-season starter Kole Olszewski both return. Whoever is dubbed this year's main man, will once again have the chance to connect with big play Wide Receiver Lesae Lacks and counterpart Xavier Nelson.
OLSH – Defensively, the Chargers return a decent amount of starters, the likes of Deron Greer and Brad Vaughn. However they must rely all around on Junior and Sophomore depth, so pay close attention to Linebacker Branden Brazell Jr. Offensively, they'll take a giant leap forward under a new look with Head Coach Don Militzer.
Militzer inherits an explosive offense lead by Quarterback Nehemiah Azeem along with wide receivers, Ziggy McIntosh and Dorrien Tate. Ryan Farrell will be the glue that holds the "O" Line intact. Runningback Dior Devers takes over, filling the void of last season's Running back Stephen Greer as the Chargers could be a force to be reckoned with.
Cornell – When you lose your top quarterback and runningback from a year ago, you always seek adequate replacements. Cornell is lucky enough to have a pair that will carry the ball and the load offensively. Calling the shots at quarterback will be Ed Dawson Jr. along with Raequan Troutman in the backfield. Returning as well are Cagney Smith, Eric Dennis, Drevon Newton and Jamarcus Pierce.
One of the big questions for the Raiders will be the depth of its offensive line. Defensively, Dennis and Smith will anchor that line with both being heavy pass rushers. Two-way player Dawson Jr. leads a senior-laden linebacking corp. The secondary possess tremendous depth and will be extremely difficult to score on once again as the Raiders could be very dangerous once post-season rolls around.
Carlynton – The Cougars drop down in class from 2A to 1A with the hopes of a turnaround season. Top returners include Sophomore Quarterback Devonte Dean along with Junior Jaydin McKnight. Looking to be a standout offensive weapon, McKnight is already piquing the interest of many D1 schools.
In need of a solid runningback, Junior Jacob Stiffler hopes to fill that role as the offensive line needs to replace two stalwart players. Defensively, Nate Gibson will anchor a soild linebacker group. Welsey Maxwell, Aaron Lee, Denny Gregory and Darrence Hatcher all return on both sides of the ball as Carlynton will rely on a host of two-way players.
Montour – The Spartans will return 16 experienced players this season. Offensively, seven starters return complimented by nine on the defensive side of the pigskin. In all, Montour has a roster of 12 seniors complimented with eight juniors and a host of other capable underclassmen providing plenty of depth.
Two-way Lineman Alonzo Labrie will be a force on both sides of the ball as he is one of the three top returning seniors on the Spartans squad.