Apollo-Ridge prepared for taste of own medicine from Beaver Falls

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Thursday, November 5, 2020 | 4:16 PM


For the first time in program history, Apollo-Ridge is in the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals, and a huge challenge awaits.

After taking down No. 5 Washington, 42-6, last week, the No. 4 Vikings (6-0) will face No. 1 Beaver Falls (8-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Geneva College’s Reeves Field.

The Tigers are averaging 45.1 points per game and have allowed 17.3 points per game.

“They are as sound as sound as can be, and they aren’t going to beat themselves,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “They are big, physical kids that play really hard, and I think there is a reason they are ranked the way they are, and I think there’s a reason they are putting numbers on the scoreboard.

“They are very good. They have a great run game, some great skill guys and a great line. So we are going up against a good one, but we aren’t afraid and we aren’t intimidated.”

The Vikings and the Tigers met three years ago when the current seniors were freshmen. The Tigers were coming off a state championship run, and Nick Nardone was in his first year as coach. In that game, Logan Harmon ran for 81 yards and two touchdowns as the Vikings won 27-19, but a lot has changed since.

Beaver Falls was in Class 3A at the time, and it has dropped to Class 2A this season and has dominated the classification. Those freshmen who were thrown into the fire during that 2017 season have grown up.

The Tigers running back tandem of Josh Hough and Shileak Livingston has combined for 2,310 yards and 38 touchdowns on the ground. Hough, a Syracuse recruit, is also averaging close to 19 yards per carry.

At the beginning of the season, Nardone referred to his two backs as “Thunder and Thunder” rather than “Thunder and Lightning.”

The Vikings, meanwhile, feature Harmon. He has worn down opposing defenses with his physical style all season, and it showed last week when he went off for 248 yards and four touchdowns after having 111 yards and two touchdowns at halftime.

“They are not going to trick you. They are going to line up and say, ‘Here we come. You have to stop us,’ ” Skiba said. “I know our kids are excited about the challenge, but it is just like playing against Logan all night long, so it will be fun for them.”

The passing game could become crucial as Friday’s game progresses. Senior quarterback Jake Fello (991 passing yards, 14 TDs) and wide receiver Klay Fitzroy (602 receiving yards, six TDs) lead the way for Apollo-Ridge. Fitzroy believes his team’s variety of athletes will play a vital role.

“We have so many weapons between Fello, Logan, Keighton (Reese), Dom (Reiter) and just everybody out there,” Fitzroy said. “If our passing game is not working, we have our running game, and if our running game is not working, we have our passing game. There’s just so many weapons on our team, then you have our line that is blocking extremely well this year.”

Skiba is hoping the Vikings can get off to another hot start like they did against Washington, when they forced three turnovers and scored three touchdowns on their first three drives.

“We cannot have turnovers, and we cannot give them big plays off turnovers,” Skiba said. “We have to try and create some and get some stops early. If we can do that, I think we’d put them in the mindset of forcing them to do something different.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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