High school football notebook: Freshmen playing key roles for Apollo-Ridge

Sunday, September 24, 2017 | 12:06 AM

There are more than a dozen freshmen on the Apollo-Ridge football roster, and four of them — Klay Fitzroy, Logan Harmon, Keighton Reese and Jake Fello — were big parts of the Vikings' come-from-behind 28-19 victory Friday over Class 2A Allegheny Conference rival Burrell.

Harmon was a difference maker as he scored four touchdowns and finished with 159 yards on 18 carries to help lift the Vikings to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

Fello took the reins at quarterback in place of injured senior Kyle Fitzroy and contributed 48 passing yards. Klay Fitzroy caught four of Fello's passes for 43 yards.

Keighton Reese made his presence known on both sides of the ball.

“There's been a lot of talk about them, as well as the others in the class, and to fulfill some of those expectations and live up to that billing early in their careers, it's nice to see,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “There will be plenty more who will be getting their chance, too.”

Skiba said other freshmen are stepping up during the week in practices and also during junior varsity games Saturday mornings. Zach Hreha, a converted wide receiver, started Saturday's JV contest against the Bucs at quarterback.

“Zach's getting reps and learning the offense that way, too,” Skiba said. “He never played the position before, but he has picked it up quickly. It's fun to see, and he's a heck of a defensive back, too.”

Skiba said the freshman group is football smart.

“They are growing in the knowledge of what they are doing so we can hopefully plug them into the lineup down the road,” he said. “It's huge for the future.”

Lonely island

Freeport junior defensive back Austin Romanchak faced perhaps the most difficult defensive challenge Friday night, often lining up in single coverage against Shady Side Academy star wideout Dino Tomlin.

With Shady Side quarterback Skyy Moore a threat to run, Freeport had to keep its defensive linemen and linebackers near the line of scrimmage, leaving the defensive backs on an island against the Indians' spread formation. Senior Jake Sarver also lined up against Tomlin at times.

Tomlin caught six passes for 169 yards and a touchdown, but the Yellowjackets won, 24-17.

“Our coach gave us all the trust in the world putting us one-on-one,” Romanchak said. “He said he thought we were better, and we came up and made some plays. (Tomlin) made some plays; he's a tremendous athlete out here, but in the end we came up.”

Tomlin caught an 89-yard touchdown on Shady Side's first possession when Moore's deep pass got over a leaping Romanchak and landed in Tomlin's arms, allowing him to coast down the sideline for the score. He added a 29-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Moore targeted Tomlin five times on Shady Side's final drive, completing one pass for 9 yards. One of the incompletions, on a deep ball, was tipped first by Romanchak and then by Tomlin, who nearly made the difficult catch before the ball fell incomplete.

“I hit the ball, and I'm laying on the ground and I hear the crowd going, ‘Oooh,' ” Romanchak said. “I saw it landed in my arm. It was a great experience, a great feeling.”

Ross examination

Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo promised before the season that Deonte Ross would get plenty of work on offense, and he certainly did in the Vikings' 26-20 win Friday over Deer Lakes.

Ross carried 37 times for 286 yards and two touchdowns, setting new career highs across the board. He helped the Vikings (1-3, 1-2) run out the clock after Deer Lakes cut their lead to six points, carrying the ball nine times on Valley's final drive.

The junior has 540 rushing yards and four touchdowns in four games, plus an 80-yard touchdown catch.

Drought out

Deer Lakes didn't get its first win of the season Friday night against Valley, but the Lancers did get on the board in another sense.

When Colin Kadlick caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Bender in the third quarter, it ended Deer Lakes' 10-quarter scoreless streak, which dated to the fourth quarter of the Lancers' season opener against Apollo-Ridge. They were shut out by Freeport in Week 2 and Keystone Oaks in Week 3.

Bender passed for 112 yards and three touchdowns in Deer Lakes' 26-20 loss, adding a pair of fourth-quarter strikes to Jared Colton, who finished with 106 yards receiving.

Doug Gulasy and Michael Love are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Love at @mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.

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