Kiski Area battling through growing pains, still showing fight, potential

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Saturday, September 7, 2019 | 10:54 PM


When teams go through a rebuilding phase, coaches often place young players at the core of it in order to build around them for the future.

But growing pains normally accompany those young players as they become accustomed to the speed of the game. So far this football season, Sam Albert and the Kiski Area Cavaliers (1-2) have witnessed that first hand.

Last Friday, when the Cavaliers traveled to Shaler in their WPIAL Class 5A Northern Conference opener, their youth showed in a 23-6 loss. Then, that inexperience reared its head again when they hosted the undefeated North Hills Indians on Friday.

They committed a pass interference penalty in the end zone on North Hills’ first drive that kept it alive. Then, sophomore quarterback Tommy Burke turned the ball over three times, including a fumble on the first offensive play, in a 34-7 loss.

“We keep making mistakes, which is a part of the growing up process,” Albert said.

Throughout the night, the Cavaliers allowed those small mistakes to turn into big ones. Early in the second half, an illegal man downfield brought back a touchdown pass that would have cut the Indians lead to a touchdown.

Shortly after the Indians got the ball back, running back Tommy McDonough broke off a 67-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 28-7.

“We’re young at every position, so we missed tackles and we just had guys standing there who didn’t make the tackle,” Albert said. “Then, we had two fumbles and an interception.”

There are also things that happen throughout the rebuilding process that can give a coach an idea of what the future may look like. Albert got a glimpse when Burke hit 6-foot-8, junior wide receiver Jason Baker for a 6-yard winning touchdown against defending City League champion Allderdice in their Week Zero victory.

He is also witnessed his team never give up Friday, which was something he said he’s hoping to build on.

“I told the kids before the game tonight that I was a little disappointed last week because they (Shaler) punched us in the mouth, and we never really punched back,” Albert said. “Tonight, I thought we punched back and I was really proud about that.”

Junior wide receiver Kenny Blake was another bright spot. For the first time this season, the wiry 6-foot-2, 180-pound, athlete showed what he is capable of, running for 104 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries out of the new wildcat formation. He also picked off a pass on defense. It was the type of game he felt was necessary as he looks to improve the rest of the season.

“It felt good, I needed that,” Blake said. “I didn’t do too well the first two games, so it was a good start for me and I’ll be able to go from here.”

The Cavaliers are young and they are making mistakes. But they are showing potential on both sides of the ball. Now, Albert believes they just have to work their way through the growing pains and continue to build for the future.

“We’re a making mistakes that young teams make,” Albert said. “We’re physical though. We fly to the ball. We just gotta keep working and stay together.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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