Aliquippa returns ‘good nucleus’ from WPIAL, PIAA championship lineup
Thursday, August 22, 2019 | 3:55 AM
If they all can accept their invitations, Aliquippa football greats Ty Law, Darrelle Revis, Sean Gilbert and Mike Ditka will return home for a Week 1 ceremony.
The field house at Aschman Stadium will be named for the four former NFL stars, an effort by the Quips to celebrate their history.
“It’s time to give back to them because they’ve given us so much,” Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield said.
“They’ve given our kids a sense of direction,” he added. “Everyone talks about finances or this and that, but just giving our kids an opportunity to say, ‘Dang, they come from the same place and the same circumstances I came from. If I work hard, I can do it too.’”
This year’s Quips could continue to add to the program’s remarkable resume. Eight months removed from winning WPIAL and PIAA titles, the defending champions are favored to make another run to Heinz Field — a destination they’ve now reached 11 years in a row.
The Quips graduated much from last year’s roster including M.J. Devonshire, Will Gipson, Eli Kosanovich and Avante McKenzie — the team’s leading passer, rusher, receiver and scorer.
But Aliquippa does return a handful of key two-way starters from last year’s championship lineup. That includes senior linebacker/tight end Zuriah Fisher (6-3, 220), a high-level Division I recruit with offers from Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia regionally, along with Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, N.C. State, Purdue, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and others.
Also returning are senior two-way tackle Tarquinn Greene (6-2, 305), senior receiver/cornerback Chinua Soloman (6-0, 175), junior lineman Elijah Mike (6-1, 305) and junior receiver/safety Isaiah Trowler, who’s become a defensive leader.
Another junior, Karl McBride (5-9, 185), was a key contributor at fullback and defensive end.
“We have a pretty good nucleus, it’s that we have a lot of young guys around that,” Warfield said. “We’re going to take our bumps and bruises but we’ll keep getting up and fighting.”
The Quips have two juniors to choose from at quarterback: Vaughn Morris and Brendin Brickner. Each has a different style, Warfield said, with one a runner and the other a pocket passer.
Replacing McKenzie in the backfield is Antonio Quinn (5-10, 185), a senior who arrived in January from Dyersburg, Tenn. McBride and junior Vernor Redd (5-10, 165) also will see carries.
With many new starters, the offense will look different.
“We’re a single-A school playing (Class) AAA and people forget that,” Warfield said. “A lot of coaches try to base their style on their philosophy. We here have to base our style on what we have because it fluctuates from year to year.”
Last season was Warfield’s first as Aliquippa’s coach and he set the bar very high. After finishing 14-1 with WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA titles, how does he top that in Year Two?
“I don’t look at it that way,” Warfield said. “Success on the field is just getting better every day. When I first took the job, I didn’t say, ‘OK, we’re going to win the WPIAL.’ I told the seniors we’re going to work hard every day and let the chips fall where they may. That’s what we’re trying to do this year.”
Coach: Mike Warfield
2018 record: 14-1, 6-1
All-time record: 723-323-22
Date, Opponent, Time
8.24, at Clairton, 6
8.30, Waynesburg*, 7
9.6, at Quaker Valley*, 7
9.13, at Montour, 7
9.20, Beaver Falls*, 7
9.27, at Hopewell*, 7
10.4, Yough, 7
10.11, South Park*, 7
10.18, at Keystone Oaks*, 7
10.25, Central Valley*, 7
*Class 3A Tri-County West Conference game
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .