Keystone Oaks will turn to young players to try to make run at playoffs

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Sunday, August 18, 2019 | 9:39 PM


Late last summer, Keystone Oaks was the talk of the town. When autumn came in Week 5, the Golden Eagles’ season turned upside down.

Keystone Oaks won its first four games and was 2-0 in the Class 3A Tri-County West Conference before back-to-back overtime losses to Central Valley and Quaker Valley derailed its season.

The Golden Eagles dropped four of their final six games. Even though their six overall wins were more than three of the eight Class 3A playoff teams, KO finished two games out of a playoff spot in fifth place.

“We suffered two overtime losses that kept us out of the playoffs,” said coach Greg Perry, who is entering his sixth season leading KO. “Looking back, maybe a different call here and there and we may have snuck in.”

With only four starters back on each side of the ball, the Golden Eagles will need to rely on a lot of fresh faces.

Quarterback is not among the concerns. Logan Shrubb returns for his third season as a starter. He can run and pass, and Perry believes he is one of the best quarterbacks in the district.

He connected on 115 of 191 passes for 1,532 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushed for 956 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also will start on defense.

Running back Michael Daure and wide receiver C.J. Morrow had huge seasons for the Golden Eagles in 2018, but both have graduated.

Senior Nick Whittington and junior Mark Hutchin will share the backfield load.

Seniors Tyler Hrivnak, Sammy Tortorella and Billy Dilla will bolster the wide receiver position.

The line will have four underclassmen starting with senior Robert Volpe as the lone returner. The young players are juniors Dana Shores, Zach Taylor and Connor Brown and sophomore Luke White.

“I like our offensive line,” Perry said. “We just need game reps together to form that bond they need to be successful.”

Defensively, Whittington at linebacker and senior tackle Vince Pellerin will lead a young group. Hutchin at linebacker and Hrivnak at defensive back are the other returning starters.

With Tortorella, Brown and Shores on the line, sophomore Tyler Perry at linebacker and Shrubb at defensive back, “we have some growing up to do,” said Perry.

“I think we have a good team this year,” Volpe said. “We’re mostly a young squad, but we have talent, and we’re all ready to play.”

Last year marked the second straight year Keystone Oaks finished with a winning record overall but missed the playoffs.

“As far as the conference goes, we like that it’s stacked,” Volpe said. “We’re not afraid of competition, and I don’t think there are any teams in the conference we can’t beat.”

Perry was a little more cautious when looking ahead to another tough Tri-County West schedule.

“We are progressing fine, but being in a conference with the past three state champs (Beaver Falls, Quaker Valley, Aliquippa) doesn’t help. But we are willing to compete and see where it ends up.”

Schedule

Coach: Greg Perry

2018 record: 6-4, 3-4

All-time record: 429-432-37

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, at Brentwood, 7

8.30, at Highlands, 7

9.6, Hopewell*, 7

9.13, South Park*, 7

9.20, at Central Valley*, 7

9.27, at Quaker Valley*, 7

10.4, Beaver Falls*, 7

10.11, at Deer Lakes, 7

10.18, Aliquippa*, 7:05

10.25, Waynesburg*, 7

*Class 3A Tri-County West Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Logan Shrubb

115-191, 1,532 yards, 14 TDs

Rushing: Michael Daure*

187-1,546 yards, 31 TDs

Receiving: C.J. Morrow*

61-952 yards, 10 TDs

*Graduated

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