Alle-Kiski Valley football notebook: Bye week at bad time for Apollo-Ridge

Saturday, September 26, 2020 | 6:14 PM

Apollo-Ridge will have a rare, midseason bye week coming up because Summit Academy opted out of the season.

With the Vikings steamrolling three consecutive opponents — Ligonier Valley, Freeport and Burrell — coach John Skiba doesn’t want his team to lose any momentum.

“We’re not happy about it, but it happens” Skiba said. “We’ve got a couple of kids dinged up, so at least we’ll get them fresh.”

Skiba said the bye weel also will be good to work on things in advance of a stretch run, which begins with an Allegheny Conference game Oct. 9 at Owens Field against Shady Side Academy.

The Vikings visit Serra Catholic (Oct. 16) and Steel Valley (Oct. 23) to close out the regular season in advance of a hopeful berth to the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs.

“We’re coming off this (break) against three pretty good football teams,” Skiba said. “They will determine everything that goes on. We really haven’t done anything yet. We are going to have to really focus and play well those last three.”

The gap in the schedule means Apollo-Ridge will have just five conference games. The last time teams from the Alle-Kiski Valley had just five conference games was in 2008 and ‘09 when Kiski Area, Plum and Fox Chapel played in the Big East Conference.

In 1968, Burrell had just five Allegheny Interscholastic Conference (AIC) games but went on to win the second of two straight WPIAL titles.

Defense doesn’t rest

Valley’s 34-0 victory over Deer Lakes on Friday in Allegheny Conference play marked the first time a Vikings team shut out an opponent since the 2014 season opener when they blanked Burrell at home, 3-0.

Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo said he liked the way his team set the tone early with a stand inside its 5-yard line after Deer Lakes set up shop with a long kickoff return.

The Lancers then missed a field goal attempt, and the Vikings maintained its 6-0 lead.

“It’s always a good feeling the morning after a win,” Colosimo said Saturday. “Our speed really showed, and that made a big difference. The line came off the ball well, our receivers really played well, and the defense made plays.”

The Vikings led 14-0 at halftime before pulling away over the final 24 minutes.

Colosimo noted the running of Justin Hooper, who scored a pair of touchdowns, as well as Jeremiah Johnson and Thomas Albert.

“It was a pretty good win for the guys. It was a total team effort,” said Colosimo, who tied former Jeannette and Penn-Trafford coach Art Tragesser for fifth place on the all-time Westmoreland County coaching victories list with 165.

Valley (1-2) visits conference rival Freeport Friday.

Bouncing back

The second half of Freeport’s nonconference game against Apollo-Ridge last week was one of frustration, Yellowjackets coach John Gaillot said.

The Yellowjackets were outscored 35-7 over the final 24 minutes en route to a 48-14 loss.

But Gaillot said he was pleased with his team’s resiliency to bounce back and play a full game in a 34-14 win at Derry.

“I think our physicality was the most important thing,” Gaillot said. “We got back to the way we play Freeport football. We kind of lost it last week in the second half. We got that back and played a full game.”

Sophomore Ben Lane did everything but drive his teammates back to Sarver as he scored three rushing touchdowns, threw a 48-yard pass for a score and returned a kickoff 95 yards for six more points.

“We have Valley next, and that’s going to be a tough game,” Gaillot said. “They looked pretty good (against Deer Lakes). We have to prepare our best and be ready to go again on Friday.”

Passing fancy

Alle-Kiski Valley quarterbacks ranked among the top passers in the WPIAL in Week 3.

Five threw for more than 200 yards, with Leechburg’s Dylan Cook leading the way with 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a loss to rival Springdale.

Apollo-Ridge’s Jake Fello passed for 293 yards with Klay Fitzroy hauling in a WPIAL-best 10 catches for 200 yards against Burrell.

Fox Chapel’s Justin Rice threw for 272 yards in a loss to Moon, and Lane added 229 yards in Freeport’s win.

Springdale’s Dmitri Fritch, under center in place of regular starter Legend Ausk, delivered with an efficient 7 of 10 passing performance for 216 yards and two touchdowns.

“Dmitri played one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play offensively,” Dynamos coach Seth Napierkowski said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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