Carmichaels seeks playoff return after hard-luck miss

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Thursday, August 26, 2021 | 9:13 PM


Carmichaels won its first five games last year before dropping two in a row to end the season.

Most years, the Mikes, who tied for second place in the Tri-County South Conference with a 5-2 record, would have been heading to the WPIAL Class A playoffs. But with spots limited due to the covid-19 pandemic, Carmichaels ended up on the outside looking in.

The Mikes, who open the season Aug. 27 against Waynesburg at home, are determined to be back in the race for the conference title.

Part of the quest to get back on top will be a focus on protecting the ball. Turnovers killed the Mikes in a 49-20 loss to California last season.

“When we lost to California, it was a turnover thing,” Carmichaels coach Ron Gallagher said. “We didn’t have any turnovers for most of the season. We had seven turnovers against California. We were out of control in one game and didn’t take care of the ball.”

The Mikes’ offense will benefit from the return of its leading passer, Trenton Carter. Carter passed for 760 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Top receiver Michael Stewart, who caught 18 passes for 319 yards, will also return.

“Returning my quarterback allows us to put the offense on his shoulders and for it to be more complex,” Gallagher said. “I feel really strong about that part of the game.”

Carmichaels will have to replace Bailey Jones, who rushed for 874 yards and scored 13 touchdowns last season.

“I always feel like we need to have a balanced offense,” Gallagher said. “I feel comfortable with our passing game.”

The Mikes were also hit hard on the offensive line, losing three starters. Senior Jonathan Ochkie and junior Chris Mincer are Carmichaels’ two returning lineman with experience.

Senior lineman Jon Purcell rejoined the team this season and will help provide some extra punch up front.

Gallagher said he expected a lot of tough battles for spots in training camp.

“I’d like to say this is going to be easy,” Gallagher said. “It’s something we have to find out through camp. We will compete at every position. If I have to start a freshman, I will start a freshman. We want to find the best players.”

Gallagher believes the defense will help the offense be able to settle in.

Last season, Carmichaels had the top scoring defense in the conference, holding opponents to 14.3 points per game. California (15.9) was the only other team in the Tri-County South to hold teams under 20 points per game.

“I’m a defensive guy, we spent a lot of time on defense,” Gallagher said. “We want to play tough and responsible defense.”

Carmichaels

Coach: Ron Gallagher

2020 record: 5-2, 5-2 in Class A Tri-County South

All-time record: 499-374-48

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.27 Waynesburg, 7

9.3 at Charleroi, 7

9.10 Fort Cherry, 7

9.17 at Mapletown*, 7

9.24 Bentworth*, 7

10.1 at West Greene*, 7

10.8 Monessen*, 7

10.15 at California*, 7

10.22 Avella*, 7

10.29 at Jefferson-Morgan*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Trenton Carter

44-82, 760 yards, 7 TDs

Rushing: Bailey Jones*

109-854

Receiving: Michael Stewart

18-319

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Carmichaels enters the season with 499 victories and has a chance to hit 500 when it hosts Waynesburg in Week Zero. Twenty-one active WPIAL teams have at least 500 wins.

• Thanks to that opener against Waynesburg, the other four Greene County schools are back on Carmichaels’ schedule this season. A meeting with the Raiders was wiped out by pandemic-related schedule changes last year.

• Carmichaels has won three WPIAL championships, sharing the Class A title in 1935 after a 6-6 tie with Glassport and 1962 after a 0-0 tie with Rostraver and winning outright in 1952 with a victory over Wilmerding.

• The Mighty Mikes offense averaged 41.7 points in its first three games and 17.7 points in last three games last season.

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