Fox Chapel’s offseason effort lays groundwork for improvement

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Friday, August 16, 2019 | 11:06 AM


Shane Susnak is confident.

The senior quarterback feels the pieces are in place for Fox Chapel to take a step forward this season and improve upon last year’s 2-8 overall record and 1-6 mark in the Class 5A Northern Conference.

“We lost 27 seniors from my sophomore year, so we had basically a whole new lineup,” Susnak said. “This year, we have a lot of good guys coming back, and I think that experience will help us be better.

“It comes down to finishing games and finishing every play. Our goal has to be to start strong and end strong and stay focused for every play.”

Coach Tom Loughran said the returning players took lessons learned from last season and used them as motivation in weight room sessions and on-field workouts in the spring and summer.

“They’ve worked hard on focusing on the things that will help them grow as a team,” Loughran said. “They laid the groundwork for what we hope is a good season. We’re always optimistic heading into each season, and we have some good players that back up that optimism.”

Susnak finished his first season as the starter with 1,128 passing yards and eight touchdowns against six interceptions. For his efforts, he earned all-conference honorable mention recognition.

“Shane’s been a really good leader for us,” Loughran said. “He grew a lot last year, and he’s very knowledgeable in terms of executing our offense. He’s someone that when I talk to him about different looks and things we want to do schematically, he understands and applies them with confidence to the situations we face in the game.”

Susnak threw for a season-high 236 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-15 win over Connellsville.

“Aside from just getting stronger, watching film has really helped,” Susnak said. “There were times I would break the pocket too early, throw too soon or late and just do other things that a first-year (starter) tends to do while he is learning and getting more experience. I have just tried to tighten all of that down and improve my overall game.”

Senior Sam Brown, a second-team all-conference pick as a multi-purpose back last season, led the Foxes in rushing with 530 yards and seven touchdowns on 107 carries.

Defensively, he made 51 stops (42 solo), good for third on the team.

“Sam has gotten bigger and stronger in the weight room. We’re hoping for big things from him this year,” Loughran said. “He’s started to get more college interest. I think what he does this season will go a long way in his recruitment. He understands that and has worked hard.”

Loughran said two other returning players who were honorable mention all-conference — seniors Alex Wecht (defensive back) and Ryan Billings (offensive guard) — will be key components of a hopeful turnaround this fall.

Wecht led the team in tackles last year with 73 (60 solo). He also is expected to be a contributor as a wideout.

“He’s one of those players with a lot of experience, and we’re going to count on his leadership,” Loughran said.

Billings leads an experienced group on the offensive and defensive lines that include senior Eddie Farrell, junior Thomas Golembiewski and sophomore Caleb Kulikowski.

Junior Justin Rice also returns as a key cog with Wecht in the secondary.

Loughran said sophomores Lorenzo Jenkins (wide receiver), Zidane Thomas (running back) and Maurice Sampson-Schulter (running back) are ones to watch.

The Foxes hope to be one of the five teams to earn automatic playoff berths in the Northern Conference. Penn Hills returns as the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion, and Mars, North Hills, Armstrong, Shaler and Kiski Area also made the postseason in 2018.

Fox Chapel opens Friday with a Week Zero game at Peters Township.

“We know our league is good, and we have the defending WPIAL and PIAA champ,” Loughran said. “We consider them the king until someone dethrones them. We’re looking forward to the challenge of our schedule.”

Schedule

Coach: Tom Loughran

2018 record: 2-8, 1-6

All-time record: 215-344-8

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, at Peters Township, 7

8.30, at North Hills*, 7:30

9.6, at Penn Hills*, 7

9.13, Kiski Area*, 7

9.20, at Hampton*, 7

9.27 at Upper St. Clair, 7:30

10.4, Connellsville, 7

10.11, at Mars*, 7

10.18, Armstrong*, 7

10.25, Shaler*, 7

*Class 5A Northern Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Shane Susnak

94-161, 1,128 yards, 8 TDs

Receiving: Korey Simmons*

24-366 yards, 2 TDs

Rushing: Sam Brown

107-530 yards, 7 TDs

*Graduated

Fox Chapel roster

No., Name, Pos., Ht./Wt., Cl.

1, Lorenzo Jenkins, WR/DB, 6-2/150, So.

2, Sam Brown, RB/LB, 6-1/200, Sr.

3, Zakaria Essaouab, Sr.

3, Zidane Thomas, RB/LB, 5-11/180, So.

4, Justin Rice, CB/QB, 5-8/165, Jr.

5, Mason Heininger, Fr.

5, Warner Macklin, WR/CB, 5-10/166, Sr.

6, Trevor Katz, Fr.

7, Chris Rogalski, WR/DB, 6-1/155, Jr.

8, Cameron Wilson, WR/DB, 5-11/150, Jr.

9, Anthony Miles, TE/DB, 6-0/160, So.

10, Gavin Purnell, Fr.

10, Nathan Ward, TE/DL, 6-3/190, Sr.

11, Max Lucey, WR/DB, 6-1/170, Jr.

12, Collin Dietz, QB/LB, 5-10/160, So.

13, Colin Kwialkowski, WR/LB, 6-3/175, So.

14, Ben Wik, WR/DB, 5-11/150, Jr.

15, Mike Tarasi, PK, 6-2/165, Jr.

16, Shane Susnak, QB, 5-10/170, Sr.

17, Aiden Mack, WR/DB, 5-10/150, Jr.

18, Carson Creehan, QB/DB, 6-2/160, Fr.

18, Ethan Wilson, P, 6-0/150, Jr.

19, Nick McGriff, TE/LB. 5-11/190, Sr.

20, Jacob Glessner, WR/DB, 5-3/115, So.

21, Maurice Sampson-Schulter, RB/LB, 5-9/165, So.

22, Alex Wecht, WR/DB, 5-9/175, Sr.

23, Khilee Patterson, WR/DB, 5-8/140, So.

24, Jarred Helgret, So.

25, Jack Visco, RB/LB, 6-0/180, Fr.

30, Jason Williams-Anderson, TE/LB, 6-4/170, So.

31, Jibril Mugasa, WR/LB, 5-9/180, Jr.

32, Raphe Pirzada, WR/DB, 5-9/145, Jr.

33, Roman Mason, RB/DL, 5-10/185, Fr.

34, Aiden Aluise, WR/DB, 5-9/140, Fr.

35, Christian Gaston, WR/DB, Fr.

36, Kenny Kidd, Fr.

38, Dorian Gomez, WR/DB, 5-9/130, Jr.

40, Max Germanos, WR/DB, 6-0/150, So.

41, Dylan Kihn, LB, 5-10/150, Jr.

42, Jake DeMotte, WR/DB, 5-8/140, Jr.

43, Mike Belotti, RB/LB, 5-10/170, So.

44, Ryan Creehan, TE/LB, 6-0/175, Jr.

47, Darius Zaborowski, So.

51, Elijah Trimber, OL/DL, 5-6/210, So.

54, Ryan Browell, OL/DL, 5-8/185, Jr.

55, Mitchel Hiller

56, Ed Farrell, OL/DL, 6-0/220, Sr.

57, Ramadani Mada, OL/DL, 6-0/170, Fr.

58, Eron Fowler, OL/DL, So.

58, Ryan Billings, OL/DL, 6-4/275, Sr.

59, Caleb Kulikowski, OL/DL, 6-2/205, So.

62, Henry Gavazzi, OL/DL, 6-3/200, Jr.

63, Terry Love, OL/DL, 6-1/365, Sr.

66, Vic River, OL/DL, 5-10/165, Fr.

67, Thomas Golembriewski, OL/DL, 6-0/215, Jr.

68, Sean Fedzco, OL/DL, 6-3/200, Fr.

70, Kevin Valdez, OL/DL, 5-11/200, Jr.

71, Evan Kuhn, OL/LB, 5-10/180, Jr.

73, Nick Korbe, OL/DL, 6-4/190, So.

80, Ryan Sines, Fr.

84, Zach Sullivan, TE/LB, 5-11/160, Fr.

87, Aljandro Morales, PK, 5-9/175, Sr.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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