After rough start, Fox Chapel is looking to close with 4 wins in row

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Saturday, October 19, 2019 | 11:04 PM


Just a few weeks ago, the Fox Chapel football team was on the outside of the Class 5A playoff picture looking in.

They were 1-5 overall, 1-3 in section and were coming off a 42-0 shutout loss to Upper St. Clair. The Foxes needed to turn things around. To do so, they set a goal for themselves to win their final four games.

After Friday night’s 41-14 win over Class 5A Northern Conference opponent Fox Chapel, they have completed 75 percent of that goal.

“We said our goal was to win four to end the season,” coach Tom Loughran said. “Now we have three of them, so our goal is to win one more and we have the opportunity to do that this upcoming Friday at home against Shaler and we want to take care of the game and fulfill our goal.”

Fox Chapel’s recent streak started with a change in mentality. Earlier in the season, if the Foxes fell behind in a game, they would check out — and it showed. They lost their first four games by a combined score of 149-58.

As of late, that has been different. They were resilient in their two-point victory over Mars, bouncing back from a 14-7 second-quarter deficit. They also held off Hampton in their first win of the season.

“We just believe,” quarterback Shane Susnak said. “I think at the beginning of the season, you would see that if we got down early, our guys would get down. But I think we’ve done a good job of picking it up, and if we have a bad play we just gotta come back the next play.

“Our coaches always tell us bad things are going to happen. We just have to stay the course, and if you make a bad play just make up for it on the next play.”

Their mental strength has come a long way since the beginning of the season, and so has their health. Loughran said his team was pretty banged up early in the season, and younger players had to step up.

As the season has gone on, players have started to return, and the experience for the younger players has started to pay off during their winning streak. On Friday, sophomore running back Zidane Thomas filled in nicely for Sammy Brown with one touchdown through the air and one on the ground.

Fox Chapel is on the verge of a playoff berth for the first time since 2017.

“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Susnak said. “We left a lot on the table against Armstrong. We did a good job of recovering and making up for our mistakes. We just have to tighten up our mistakes and ride this momentum into our final game of the season.”

Kiski Area beat Mars on Friday, creating a three-way tie for third place in the Northern Conference. Fox Chapel and Mars hold a tiebreaker over the Fightin’ Planets, and because of their 36-17 victory over the Foxes on Sept. 13, the Cavaliers own the tiebreaker over Fox Chapel. The Foxes could get into the playoffs with a loss, but a win Friday against Shaler will assure them a berth.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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