Apollo-Ridge excited to build on strong season

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Sunday, August 22, 2021 | 6:01 AM


Apollo-Ridge was an experienced team in 2020. That experience helped the Vikings navigate the covid landscape and truncated season to a 6-1 overall record and a rout of perennial Class 2A contender Washington in the WPIAL playoffs.

Graduation took away many of those main players — names such as Jake Fello, Klay Fitzroy, Keighton Reese, Logan Harmon and Dom Reiter. But as a new season dawns, John Skiba, in his 10th season as coach, is confident the returning talent and younger players will step up and help keep up the team’s winning ways.

“This is a very tight-knit group who wants to win together,” Skiba said. “We were getting 30-plus a day for workouts in the offseason. Those were good things that I know will help as the season gets closer.”

Skiba said he expects the team to again be competitive in the Allegheny Conference against the likes of Serra Catholic, Ligonier Valley and Shady Side Academy.

Apollo-Ridge went 3-0 last year in conference play. Serra was 2-0. The head-to-head matchup was canceled because of covid issues at Serra. The same fate hit other conference games, and the WPIAL didn’t recognize a conference champion.

“The atmosphere around the team is very positive,” said senior Nick Curci, who led the returning players in rushing and receiving last season. “Everyone is excited to fill those roles on offense and defense and get to work. Everyone is working hard, and we’re looking forward to a great season.”

Curci carried the ball 16 times over six games and finished with 193 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also hauled in 12 passes for 148 yards and two scores.

At linebacker, Curci made 30 stops, including a season-best six in the Vikings’ playoff win over Washington in the WPIAL first round.

“I know my roles definitely will increase, but the coaches haven’t put any pressure on me,” said Curci, who landed on the all-conference first team at inside linebacker.

“They just want me to work hard and have fun playing football. Coach Skiba is a great role model who teaches us to make sure we are taking care of business each day.”

Sophomore Karter Schrock is set to take over under center. He saw action in seven games last year as a freshman but threw only two passes.

He also will help form the heart of the secondary at safety.

“He’s the guy, and I think he’s going to get better and better as we go along,” Skiba said. “He’s a student of the game. He relishes the role of being that starting quarterback. We might move him around a little bit on defense and put him in the best position to make plays for us.”

Senior wideout Angelo Cicco, Skiba said, also is expected to take on a larger skill-position role. Skiba is looking for big things from juniors Gage and Corbin Johnson, senior Colton Niel and junior Landon Harmon.

“Hopefully, they will step up and take advantage of their opportunities,” Skiba said.

Experience is back in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Three returning starters on the offensive line are left tackle Greg Klingensmith, junior center Cooper Gourley and senior tackle Bradey Schrock.

“The linemen did a great job of coming in and competing all offseason,” Skiba said. “We took them to different things, and they did a great job. It’s a good mix of size, speed and tenacity. They are going to be a strength of what we have coming for this year. We probably will be leaning on them more than we ever have in the past.”

Klingensmith, on the defensive line, and Curci led the defensive returnees in tackles last year.

Senior Gavin Cole provides stability on special teams. He earned all-conference kicking honors in 2020.

“We will be somewhat young but are expected to continue to compete,” Skiba said. “We have players who might not have started last year but did gain a lot of experience at different roles.”

Apollo-Ridge

Coach: John Skiba

2020 record: 6-1, 3-0 in Class 2A Allegheny Conference

All-time record: 224-276-9

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.27 OLSH, 7

9.3 at Avonworth, 7

9.10 Greensburg Central Catholic, 7

9.17 Freeport, 7

9.24 at Burrell, 7

10.1 Summit Academy*, 7

10.9 at Shady Side Academy*, 2:30

10.15 Serra Catholic*, 7

10.22 Steel Valley*, 7

10.29 at Ligonier Valley*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Jake Fello*

83-138, 1,230 yards, 15 TDs

Receiving: Klay Fitzroy*

41-694, 6 TDs

Rushing: Logan Harmon*

116-920, 18 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• John Skiba owns a record of 58-43 in nine seasons as head coach of the Vikings.

• Apollo-Ridge was balanced last year with 1,245 passing yards to 1,542 yards on the ground.

• The Vikings are seeking their third straight trip to the WPIAL playoffs.

• Apollo-Ridge averaged the second-most points per game in Class 2A in 2020 at 43.7. Serra Catholic was first at 44.7.

ROSTER

No., Name, Cl.

2, Alex Wurmb, So.

4, Angelo Cicco, Sr.

5, Gage Johnston, Jr.

6, Corbin Johnston, Jr.

7, Gabe Suman, Fr.

8, Karter Schrock, Fr.

9, Colton Niel, Sr.

12, Jacob Mull, Jr.

14, Darek Baustert, Jr.

17, Michael Fryer, Jr.

20, Corey Mackintosh, Fr.

21, Ryan Garrone, Fr.

27, Evan Remaley, Sr.

29, Logan Chapman, So.

30, Logan Bianco, So.

31, Nick Curci, Jr.

32, Seth Mahaffey, Fr.

33, Keyvahn McCray, Sr.

35, Gavin Cole, Sr.

40, Matt Clark, Sr.

41, Landon Harmon, Jr.

45, Luke Hura, Jr.

47, Caiden Sekscinski, Fr.

50, Mason Crawford, Fr.

51, Cooper Gourley, Jr.

52, James Stump, Fr.

54, Tyler Jaworskyj, Jr.

56, Austin Havens, So.

57, Bradey Schrock, Sr.

58, David Cochran, Fr.

59, Greg Klingensmith, Sr.

62, Andrew Booth, Sr.

66, Michael Grant, Jr.

71, Tyler Bartell, Fr.

72, Connor Weigand, Jr.

77, Ryan Lydon, Fr.

78, Nate Simpson, Jr.

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

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