Depth, experience to fuel Apollo-Ridge in quest for postseason

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Friday, September 4, 2020 | 10:54 PM


No matter where Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba turns on the practice field, he sees a returning starter.

Experience abounds for the Vikings, who hope to build on last year’s 7-4 overall record and WPIAL Class 2A playoff appearance. The team also hosted its first postseason game since 2014.

“I and the other coaches are fortunate to have a group that is very mature and has been through a lot,” Skiba said. “They now are natural leaders. Before we started to work out officially, a lot of them were working out on their own and putting together group workouts. They knew what needed to be done. We had great turnouts when we returned to workouts. There is a lot of energy around this team.”

When the WPIAL shortened schedules because of the pandemic, Apollo-Ridge lost scrimmages with Valley and Yough. A Week 1 game against 2019 WPIAL Class 2A champion and PIAA runner-up Avonworth became the Vikings’ lone scrimmage.

The Oct. 30 game with WPIAL newcomer Ligonier Valley, a new conference foe for Apollo-Ridge, was moved to the new opening date, Sept. 11, and a nonconference game with Greensburg Central Catholic was eliminated.

Conference foe Summit Academy canceling fall sports left a void in Apollo-Ridge’s schedule the weekend of Oct. 3.

Nonconference contests against Freeport (Sept. 18) and Burrell (Sept. 25) remain.

In addition to Ligonier Valley, the Vikings will have conference games against Steel Valley, Shady Side Academy and Serra Catholic.

Ligonier Valley finished 12-1 in its final season in District 6.

“It’s a pretty athletic conference with a lot of good skill players,” Skiba said. “Ligonier Valley brings in a lot of tradition to the conference. We understand what kind of battle that is going to be. ”

Seniors Klay Fitzroy (wide receiver/quarterback), Jake Fello (quarterback) and Logan Harmon (running back) each led offensive categories last year, and they will be joined in the skill positions by seniors Keighton Reese (wide receiver), Adam Troutman (tight end), Dom Reiter (fullback) and sophomore Nick Curci (running back).

“With this experienced group back, we are just executing the necessary things on and off the field to be ready for the season,” Fitzroy said. “Last year was pretty exciting because we were able to show everybody what we were capable of doing. We’ve been working hard to build on all of those good things.”

Up front, there is starting experience from seniors Lucas Yard (guard), Jake Duriancik (guard), Connor Wynn (center/guard) and Cole Sells (center), as well as junior tackles Bradey Schrock and Greg Klingensmith.

Harmon led the team in tackles last year (92) from his inside linebacker spot, and Reese (outside linebacker) and Reiter (inside linebacker) each added 52 stops.

Fitzroy (defensive back) fronted the defense with four interceptions.

Also back to form the core of the defense are Fello (free safety), Yard (inside linebacker), Wynn (defensive end), Schrock (defensive tackle), Klingensmith (defensive end), Curci (outside linebacker) and senior defensive back Zach Hreha.

Skiba said junior Angelo Cicco (wide receiver) and sophomore Landon Harmon (fullback/defensive end) should have increased roles in 2020.

Sophomore Jake Mull handled place kicking duties last year and will be joined by junior Gavin Cole, who returns after playing at Kiski School last season.

“The guys are just excited to play, and they understand what possibly could be with the season,” Skiba said. “They know they have a chance to be something special.”

Schedule

Coach: John Skiba

2019 record: 7-4, 4-2 in Class 2A Allegheny

All-time record: 218-275-9

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, Ligonier Valley*, 7

9.18, at Freeport, 7

9.25, Burrell, 7

10.2, at Summit Academy*, ppd

10.9, Shady Side Academy*, 7

10.16, at Serra Catholic*, 7

10.23, at Steel Valley*, 7

*Class 2A Allegheny Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Jake Fello

73-120, 1,110 yards, 8 TDs

Receiving: Klay Fitzroy

33-621 yards, 6 TDs

Rushing: Logan Harmon

199-1,415 yards, 18 TDs

Fast facts

• Apollo-Ridge will match up with Serra Catholic for the first time since the quarterfinals of the 2007 WPIAL Class A playoffs.

• Led by Logan Harmon, the Vikings’ running attack averaged 191.3 yards a game in 2019.

• The Apollo-Ridge defense returns eight of its top nine tacklers from a year ago.

• Klay Fitroy averaged 18.8 yards per catch last year.

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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