Sunday August 14, 2022 | 12:01
North Catholic enters the 2022 season in a new standings with a different field, a new offensive coordinator, a new quarterback and many new starters.
But the Trojans bring back a familiar, time-tested goal: winning football.
“I think ultimately (rebuild) is a realistic word,” coach Patrick O’Shea said. “I don’t know if we have to rebuild on a large scale. … We have our work cut out for us. But in my five years, every time the seniors move out, they leave us in great shape. I think everything will be fine. »
The Trojans, who moved up to Class 4A in the registration-based offseason realignment, earned six first-team selections from all conferences and fired just a handful of starters.
They will try to carry on a winning tradition that has seen the Cranberry Township school go 34-1 in conference since 2017 and reach last season’s WPIAL Class 3A title game, where they lost to Central Valley, 52-15. , for the only blemish on a 12-1 season.
“I got that fire after losing in the WPIAL Championship,” said lead running back/defensive back Chase Arrington. “I just worked non-stop. We have a young team this year, so we continue to grow. But we look good.
Arrington, whose cousin is former WPIAL and North Hills great LaVar Arrington, carried 28 times for 214 yards and four touchdowns last season while playing with a leg injury.
“I think he’s ready for a great senior year,” O’Shea said.
Other returning starters include junior running back Jack Fennell, who last season rushed for 473 yards and six touchdowns and caught 25 passes for 332 yards and four touchdowns; senior linemen JJ Iaquinta and Justin Smith; senior linebacker Shamus Straub and sophomore winger Brady O’Hara.
Two juniors, Jason Siket and Hopewell transfer Kaden Sarver, are auditioning to replace quarterback Joey Prentice, the conference’s offensive MVP last season.
“They both work really hard,” Fennell said. “Whoever is the starter is going to do a great job. They’re both very good.”
O’Shea said the competition is “wide open” and won’t be settled until after the pre-season scrums. Siket has excelled in junior college the past two seasons and performed well during his limited time in college last year, completing 15 of 26 attempts for 340 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We’re very comfortable with the guys we have there,” O’Shea said. “Ultimately, their success depends on our offensive line, and I think everyone knows that.”
Other Trojans expected to step in include senior defensive end Julian King, senior inside linebacker Tyler Cannon, junior WR/DB Gavin Kamody and junior OL Oliver Gibson.
The offense will be under new coordinator Ron Balog, the former head coach of Quaker Valley. O’Shea said the offense will be “a bit more running-oriented” than in the past.
North Catholic, which will return to JC Stone Field in North Park this year after playing home games the past four seasons primarily at new conference rival Mars, is eyeing an 11th straight WPIAL playoff spot in a new conference. The Trojans have upgraded from Class 3A and now compete in Greater Allegheny against Armstrong, Hampton, Highlands, Indiana, Kiski Area and Mars.
The Trojans will also face an ambitious non-conference schedule that includes defending WPIAL and PIAA 4A champion Aliquippa, defending WPIAL 2A champion Serra Catholic as well as Avonworth in a rematch of North Catholic’s 7-0 win. last year in the WPIAL 3A semi-finals.
“I think everyone here here understands that it’s going to be an incredible challenge every week, and we’re going to accept that,” O’Shea said after practice Aug. 9. “These guys know what’s coming, and they’re excited about it.”
Coach: Patrick O’Shea
Record 2021: 12-1, 6-0 in Class 3A Allegheny Conference
All-time record: 466-310-32
Date, opponent, time
8.26 in Serra Catholic, 7
9.2 Shady Side Academy, 7
9.9 to Aliquippa, 7
9.16 at Highlands*, 7
9.23 Kiski Domain*, 7
9:30 a.m. at Armstrong*, 7
10.7 Hampton*, 7
10.14 Avonworth, 7
10.21 at Indiana*, 7
10.28 March*, 7
Who passed: Joey Prentice*
93-159, 1,683 yards, 22 touchdowns
Dash : Kyle Tipinsky*
Reception : Tipinsky*
• North Catholic has won 25 consecutive conference games since 2018, the longest active streak on WPIAL.
• Les Troyens will play Eternal Power Aliquippa on 9 September, the first meeting between the two schools since 1990.
• Les Troyens broke through and reached the WPIAL Championship last season after going 0-5 in the semi-finals since 2013
• North Catholic’s four non-conference opponents (Shady Side Academy, Aliquippa, Serra Catholic, Avonworth) went 42-12 combined last season.