After injuries derailed last season, West Allegheny brings back experienced roster

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Saturday, August 13, 2022 | 12:01 AM


Every football team has to deal with injuries.

Some are able to stop the bleeding and continue toward a successful campaign, while others watch as the snowball becomes an avalanche and derails all the hopes for a season.

Such was the case for West Allegheny in 2021. The Indians won their first three games, then as key injuries started to mount, West A lost five of its final six games to miss the WPIAL playoffs for a third straight season, after reaching the district postseason for 10 straight years from 2009-2018.

“2021 was a year of injuries for us,” West Allegheny coach Dave Schoppe said. “We came into the year knowing we had one of the best quarterbacks in the conference (Gavin Miller) and we would be a pass-heavy team. With his injury, our offensive mindset had to change drastically. We had to transition from a throwing team to a running team as quickly as we could. With several other key injuries, we were forced to shuffle players around, and often into positions they had not played before.

“It was a challenge to say the least; however, there is a positive from 2021. We had many younger players get playing time and valuable playing experience. This has translated to a good offseason with completion at many positions.”

The pains of inexperience last fall may pay off this season for West A with the return of seven starters on offense and eight on defense.

One of the key returning players is senior running back and linebacker Nodin Tracy, who led the Indians in rushing, receiving and scoring last year.

“Nodin has taken on the leadership role for us and will be a large part of our offense,” Schoppe said. “He has dedicated himself to the weight room and his teammates, and we are excited to see how his work pays off on the field.”

Tracy rushed for 638 yards, had 342 yards receiving and scored eight touchdowns.

“I don’t feel as if there is pressure on me,” Tracy said. “I know I have a pretty good line blocking for me this year. Knowing they can get their job done first makes it a lot easier for me carrying it.”

There are plenty of other players back that have Shoppe excited.

“I am excited about how the players have dedicated themselves to the program,” he said. “They have spent countless hours preparing their bodies in the weight room and minds by studying film. They are hungry and eager to get back on the field work towards achieving their goals.”

Indians players to watch include sophomore running back/safety Brock Cornell, senior wide receiver/safety Nico Taddy, senior wide receiver/linebacker Nick Longo, senior lineman Shane Tuthill, senior lineman Hudson Clay and senior kicker Brayden Lambert.

“Brook will be our defensive leader in the secondary,” Schoppe said. “Nico brings several years of playing experience and knowledge. Nick is a high-energy player who has great hands and plays with excitement. Shane is one of our biggest and strongest players. Hudson will center our offensive line and has valuable playing time experience, and Brayden has spent many yours working to get stronger and kick the ball deep. He was 7-for-7 from 40-plus yards last season with field goals.”

As West Allegheny attempts to get back into the postseason, Tracy believes the hurdles the team had to deal with last year have made the players stronger and closer this fall.

“Some teams may lose hope when they aren’t producing well, but through these years, I feel we dealt with a lot of adversity,” Tracy said. “Now we know how to attain our goals when the odds are against you.”

Realignment has dropped West Allegheny from 5A to 4A this season. However, the Indians will call the historically strong Parkway Conference home with defending 4A district and state champion Aliquippa, defending 3A district and state champion Central Valley, Ambridge, Blackhawk, Chartiers Valley, Montour and New Castle.

“Overall, our player numbers are more comparable to the 4A Parkway teams,” Schoppe said. “Any time you change conferences, it is a challenge. There are really good and well-coached teams in our conference. We have to play our best week after week and are excited to face these new challenges.”

West Allegheny

Coach: Dave Schoppe

2021 record: 4-5, 1-4 in Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference

All-time record: 378-362-14

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 at Moon, 7

9.2 South Fayette, 7

9.9 at Ringgold, 7

9.16 New Castle*, 7

9.23 at Aliquippa*, 7

9.30 Chartiers Valley*, 7

10.7 at Ambridge*, 7

10.14 Blackhawk*, 7

10.21 at Central Valley*, 7

10.28 Montour*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Gavin Miller*

35-62, 509 yards, 4 TDs

Rushing: Nodin Tracy

132-638, 8 TDs

Receiving: Tracy

20-342, 8 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Dave Schoppe begins his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater. The Indians are a combined 10-15 in his three previous seasons.

• The last time West Allegheny missed the WPIAL playoffs three years in a row was in 1994-96. The Indians won the district crown in 1997.

• The Indians have won eight WPIAL football championships and this is the 25th anniversary of their first title. West Allegheny defeated Brownsville in the 1997 Class AAA title game at Three Rivers Stadium, 51-24. The 51 points was a district record for a 3A championship game until Central Valley beat North Catholic last season, 52-15.

• This is the 73rd season of West Allegheny football, including preceding schools in the district. West A has won WPIAL championships in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2016 and one PIAA title in 2001.

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