Fox Chapel endured challenging schedule during run to WPIAL quarterfinals

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Saturday, November 20, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Fox Chapel’s football schedule this season was like a bakery near closing time — no creampuffs.

Ten of the 12 teams the Foxes (5-7) played this season were playoff teams.

The only two non-playoff teams on the card — Shaler and Kiski Area — were competitive teams that stayed in the playoff race late into the regular season.

The Foxes finished 2-3 in the Northeast Conference.

“We had a lot of things that challenged us during the course of the year,” Fox Chapel coach Tom Loughran said. “Our kids kept it in a positive direction, came back every day and tried to get better. We played a lot of tough teams.”

The biggest accomplishment was winning a playoff game for the first time in 24 years. The Foxes defeated Upper St. Clair in the opening round of the Class 5A tournament, 13-10. And Fox Chapel did it without its starting quarterback, Collin Dietz, who suffered an injury late in the regular season.

“That was a high point,” said Loughran, whose team was eliminated by Penn-Trafford, 42-14, in the quarterfinals Nov. 12. “Any time you win a game it’s a high point. But it’s been so long here since they achieved something like that. Truthfully, I didn’t think it would take seven years (coaching at Fox Chapel) to get it done.”

Filling in admirably for Dietz was senior Khi’Lee Patterson, who battled Dietz for the starting job back in August.

“Coming in, that was pretty nerve-wracking,” Patterson said. “But in practice, everyone gave me a lot of confidence and when I got into the games, it showed. We had a lot of talent on the team. We had the opportunity to make big plays.”

“That’s the other side of the coin,” Loughran said. “We played the last half of the Pine-Richland game and the playoff games without Collin Dietz, who was a strong leader on our team and a strong member of the senior class. We had to restructure things within our offense for Khi’Lee.”

Fox Chapel played all four teams that were in the 5A semifinals.

Said Loughran: “Four teams from our schedule still left, that’s a big tribute to the schedule we played. Our league was very good.”

“It was a pretty rocky schedule,” Patterson said. “It defined how we were going to play. Every game we came in there fighting.”

Patterson was a triple threat for the Foxes, passing for 164 yards, rushing for 206 yards and catching 26 passes for 441 yards and five touchdowns.

Before he got hurt, Dietz completed 87 passes for 1,296 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Fox Chapel’s leading rusher was Zidane Thomas with 171 carries for 1,023 yards.

The leading receiver was Jake DeMotte with 29 catches for 398 yards. Colin Kwiatkowski also turned in a fine season with 23 receptions for 470 yards.

What’s next for the Foxes?

Loughran will give the team November off before hitting the weight room in December as the team starts working on replacing eight offensive starters and seven defensive starters.

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