After up-and-down season, young talent ready to lead North Hills football into future

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Saturday, November 19, 2022 | 11:01 AM


The overall record for the North Hills football team in 2022 comes nowhere close to telling its full story.

A young team coming off a seven-win campaign a year earlier, the Indians finished 3-8 overall this season. But the group still made the postseason thanks to a strong performance in conference play that resulted in a 3-2 record.

North Hills battled one of the WPIAL’s most rigorous schedules, particularly nonconference games, with matchups against Class 5A semifinalists Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park — which eliminated the Indians in the Class 5A quarterfinals, 19-17 — and against other playoff teams like Gateway, Franklin Regional and a Class 6A program in Seneca Valley.

“Our schedule, we had all of the top seeds, all of the playoff teams,” Indians coach Pat Carey said. “Of the eight teams in the (Class 5A) playoffs, the only teams we didn’t play were Penn-Trafford and ourselves.

“The competition was fantastic, but we were a young team learning how to play, and injuries added up after a while.”

North Hills’ season got off to an 0-4 start but dramatically turned when the Indians went east in Week 4 and knocked off Penn Hills, 27-26, in overtime. Two weeks later, they took a rivalry game over Shaler, which entered the game at 4-2.

“Beating Shaler at home was big for us,” Carey said. “They were on a roll there and had things going. That was a big one. And beating Penn Hills in overtime was big for us, especially looking at the playoff picture.”

Penn Hills failed to qualify for postseason due to the loss to North Hills.

Carey, who was tasked with replacing nearly his entire lineup due to graduation, felt as if his defense carried the team.

“They kept us in the game a lot of nights, including the playoff game,” he said. “They rose up defensively and made it competitive. That was probably the area where I was most pleased.”

He also noticed great individual growth.

Julius Green was first-team all-conference selection as cornerback as only a sophomore.

“He really showed some bright spots and is going to be a good football player moving forward,” Carey said. “He didn’t play last year because of injury but came out this year and put it together.”

Defensive tackle Jamar Allen, a freshman, was second-team all-conference as well.

“We had a handful of younger guys that stepped up and grew as a team and learned how to play,” Carey added.

There will, however, be losses that will need to be replaced next season. Quarterback John Green, linemen Logan Greer and Michael Roginsky, linebacker JD Grandstaff, defensive end Sam Coldren and receiver/defensive backs Curt Knobeloch, Mike Hoskey and Cooper Thompson will all graduate.

“We take pride in always welcoming our kids back,” Carey said. “Once you’re an Indian, you’re always an Indian. Those guys played significant roles last year. They were a big part of what we did over the last couple of years. They’re great kids, great program kids.”

But now Carey and his team turn the page and begin to get ready for 2023. He does not discourage his players from getting into the weight room whenever they want but also emphasizes taking time away from the game to enjoy other interests.

When they convene again, after the holidays, their attention will be focused on getting back to the winning ways of 2021 by using the tough lessons acquired in 2022.

“I thought we played well with a significant amount of injuries this year,” Carey said. “It speaks to our youth and how they matured over the process of playing that tough schedule, learning and seeing themselves on tape.

“The future looks bright, but we took some lumps this year by playing young kids. We are trending in the right direction.”

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