Apollo-Ridge thrilled to stay at home on a Friday night

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 | 5:40 PM

The Apollo-Ridge Vikings are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Owens Field this season. On Friday, they’ll get to do it in style by hosting their first home playoff game since 2014.

“It’s huge for this week especially because of the short week,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “When you have the short week, they have to get ready themselves, then they have to come down here, and it’s not an easy trip to get to Apollo-Ridge.”

The Vikings (7-3, 4-2) were awarded the No. 7 seed in Class 2A at the annual WPIAL pairings meeting on Monday and will take on 10th-seeded New Brighton (7-3, 5-2) at 7 p.m. Friday at Owens Field.

Led by longtime coach Joe Greco, the Lions have been a tough out this year. They have lost to undefeated Avonworth, along with Freedom and Western Beaver in back-to-back weeks. But they finished the season strong with two wins, including a 42-34 victory over No. 14 seed Riverside.

It’s been a work in progress for the Lions. After jumping out to a good start on defense at the beginning of the year, Greco said his team has needed to make some defensive adjustments as the year has gone on.

“Our offense has been clicking lately, and defensively, we have had some breakdowns,” Greco said. “So we need to shore some things up defensively for Friday.”

Offensively, the Lions are led by senior quarterback Jackson Hall, who has thrown for 1,648 yards and 19 touchdowns this season while only throwing five interceptions.

“He’s an excellent thrower and he’s dead spot on in everything he throws,” Skiba said. “Then he’s got great kids he throws to too, so they are definitely a headache. We have our work cut out for us.”

Jacob Francona has been Hall’s favorite target on the outside, catching 48 passes for 903 yards and 13 touchdowns. But like Skiba said, even with a talented offense and a strong team, making the trek from New Brighton to Apollo-Ridge is no easy task and Greco is completely aware of how hard it is to beat someone on their home field.

“It’s always difficult to go to a field you’ve never been to before, against someone who earned the home-field advantage,” Greco said. “They have a great football team. They have a good offense and an aggressive defense.”

On Friday, a young Apollo-Ridge team, led by Logan Harmon (1,338 yards, 17 TDs), Klay Fitzroy (465 receiving yards, 4 TDs) and Jake Fello (854 passing yards, 6 TDs) will look capture its first playoff victory since 2014.

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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