By Mike Longo Jr.
The ritual known as "King Football" or "Friday Night Lights" or whatever you choose to call it kicked off all over Western Pennsylvania with its usual pomp and circumstance. So put the ball on the tee, buckle up the chin straps and get ready for the ride.
It's a rite of passage, don your school colors, load up a vehicle and proceed to the stadium. Excitement abounds, the goal to produce a winning season marked by the exclamation point on the year, a WPIAL Championship and PIAA Championship.
You can feel that excitement on the campus of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart as Head Coach Don Militzer's crew has worked extremely hard this off-season as well as during training camp.
In 2021, the Chargers were the WPIAL Class A Runnersup losing to Bishop Canevin in former Head Coach Don Bradley's last hoorah. Militzer took over the reins in 2022, making the playoffs only to be ousted by Clairton in the first round.
Even though it lost several key players to graduation, the underclassmen on the roster have gained valuable experience. Eleven seniors, seven juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen make up this year's squad.
"We're really excited about the offensive line,” said Militzer.
Damare should be as four seniors, Damere Brough, Cam Branch, Joe Hatherley and Dylan Matlock along with Junior Tristan Vojtecky anchor it.
Their job is two-fold. First, they open holes for the brother duo at running back, Brandon and Brady Brazell. Brandon Brazell led the team in rushing last year with 451 yards, so fans should expect him to carry the pigskin 20-25 times a game. Second, protect their mountain of a quarterback, Vann Kavals, who missed most of last season due to injury.
Kavals, at 6-foot, 5 inches and 230 pounds, is one of the area's largest quarterbacks being viewed as a double threat with a strong arm as well as speed when he scrambles.
On the receiving end of Kavals laser passes are a trio of wide-outs with speed and the know-how to get open anywhere on the field. Dereon Greer, Dorien Tate and Ethan "Speedy" Gardner will surely be a defense's worst nightmare. Combined, all three racked up more than 1,600 yards receiving last season.
Kicking off Week Zero of 2023 it was OLSH hosting Shenango in what turned out to be a two-man show and a 32-10 victory.
The opening quarter was lackluster at best as Shenango got on the board scoring first with a 41-yard field goal and an early 3-0 lead. It turned out to be the only time they held the advantage in the game. OLSH would answer with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Vann Kavals to Doreon Greer and a slim 6-3 lead at the quarter’s end.
The second quarter is when the Chargers explosive offense kicked it into overdrive and lit up the scoreboard for 20 points. A 68-yard bomb to "Speedy" Gardner opened the scoring barrage. Brady Brazell would add the 2-point conversion. Greer snagged another Kavals pass, notching his second touchdown on the night, netting a 68-yard score.
Kavals would put the final touch on the first half, scoring as he called his own number and plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown and a Chargers 26-point cushion at the break.
The third quarter, saw the tempo of the game slow down a notch as Shenango tallied its only touchdown of the evening. That came via a Charger fumble and a Wildcat ensuing 14-yard return for the score. OLSH turned out the lights on the Wildcats compliments of a 23-yard touchdown pass to, you guessed it, Greer his third and final touchdown of the contest. At the close, it was OLSH 32 and Shenango 10. In the final quarter, it appeared as if both teams just went through the motions waiting for the final buzzer as neither team would score a point.
Greer led all receivers with his three touchdowns and 100-plus yards. Kavals had a tremendous game as proven by his final stats. In the contest, Kavals went 19/27 in the passing department, suitable for a passer rating of 70.37%. He racked up 350 yards passing, threw four touchdowns, scored one rushing and had no interceptions.
If this season-opening blow-out win indicates things to come, then Coach Militzer and the Charger faithful have plenty to be excited about.