Kiski Area continues to grow behind young, dedicated players

Friday, August 16, 2019 | 11:06 AM

Kiski Area coach Sam Albert is no stranger to building a football program. He has done it with success at four schools in Western Pennsylvania.

Heading into his third year at Kiski, Albert is starting to see a culture change.

“I think each year the kids buy more and more into the program,” Albert said. “The first year, those kids set the foundation. Last year, they did a great job of doing what we asked them to do. This year, I really believe that all the kids are on board 100 percent, and we’re excited about that.”

After graduating a class of 17 seniors, the Cavaliers will be young and have a lot of holes to fill, including at quarterback. Sophomores Tommy Burke and LJ Johnson, along with freshman Lebryn Smith, will look to fill the vacancy left by 1,800-yard passer Ryne Wallace.

Albert said it will be tough to make a decision before they see game action because it’s hard to evaluate. But he’s looking for someone who can make good decisions with the football.

“Physical attributes are important, but in my opinion, what makes a good quarterback is the decision-making,” Albert said. “So when it’s third-and-2, you don’t want to throw that 9-route, but you want to run the ball and get the first down. So decision-making is the key, and reading your progressions are things that make a great quarterback.”

Whoever wins the battle will be well protected by an experienced line. Led by guard Nick Summerhill and tackle Brandon Lawhorn, the Cavaliers have the personnel that fits their team’s personality of smashmouth football.

But it doesn’t just fit it on the offensive side. Three-year starter Justin Hessom returns on defense after racking up seven sacks as a junior last season. The senior nose guard is ready to set the tone for the Cavaliers.

“I think that all starts with the seniors and the leaders,” Hessom said. “We just have to step up because it starts with us.”

Setting the tone was exactly what the Cavaliers did in 2018. They started by winning three of their first four games.

Then, they suffered a slew of injuries to key players such as linebacker Drew DiNunzio-Biss and wide receivers Jack Colecchi and Troy Kuhn.

Those injuries might have prevented Kiski Area from winning the rest of the season, though other players were able to fill the gaps and gain experience. Hessom said that experience will help even more this year.

“I think we have more kids that are willing to step up after going through that last year,” Hessom said. “They might not have touched the varsity field at all, and that motivated them to be better and I think that’s huge.”

Albert said Brayden Dunmire and Peyton McCann filled in at linebacker and running back, respectively, and they are two players he has high expectations for this year.

McCann picked up a few things he hopes translate to this season.

“I’m getting better at reading the line and seeing where the spaces are,” McCann said. “I see how the line is actually blocking and where they are going to end up and things like that.”

The Cavaliers also return Luke Lander and Jared Curcio, who are slot receivers/outside linebackers and will provide senior leadership.


Coach: Sam Albert

2018 record: 3-8, 2-5

All-time record: 297-274-7

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, Allderdice, 7

8.30, at Shaler*, 7

9.6, North Hills*, 7

9.13, at Fox Chapel*, 7

9.20, Penn Hills*, 7

9.27, at Hampton*, 7

10.4, Woodland Hills, 7

10.11, McKeesport, 7

10.18, at Mars*, 7

10.25, Armstrong*, 7

*Class 5A Northern Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Ryne Wallace*

120-240, 1,851 yards, 16 TDs

Receiving: Jack Colecchi*

40-692 yards, 5 TDs

Rushing: Drew DiNunzio-Biss*

81-383 yards 5 TDs


Kiski Area roster

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

1, Kenny Blake, WR/DB, 6-2/180, Jr.

2, Jason Baker, WR/DB, 6-8/170, Jr.

3, Cody Marshall, WR/DB, 5-10/165, Sr.

4, Brayden Dunmire, HB/LB, 6-2/195, So.

5, Kyrell Hutcherson, WR/DB, 6-3/180, So.

6, Luke Lander, WR/OLB, 5-9/190, Sr.

7, Brock Wilkins, HB/LB, 6-0/200, So.

8, Jack Dilts, TE/DE, 6-6/230, Jr.

9, LJ Johnson, QB/LB, 5-10/185, So.

10, Mason Bennett, TE/DE, 6-1/185, Sr.

11, Matt Hilty, WR/LB, 6-0/185, So.

12, Brayden Miller, QB/FS, 6-0/170, Fr.

13, Dylan Hutcherston, WR/FS, 5-10/170, So.

14, D’Andre Gardner-Johnson, WR/FS, 6-2/170, Sr.

15, Lebryn Smith, QB/FS, 6-2/160, Fr.

16, Frankie Dininno, WR/OLB, 5-11/175, Jr.

17, Tommy Burke, QB/FS, 5-11/160, So.

18, Logan Reynolds, WR/DB, 5-5/160, So.

20, DeShawn McBride, HB/DE, 5-11/170, Fr.

21, Carter Dilts, TE/DE, 6-1/200, So.

22, Isaac Fitch, QB/OLB, 5-10/170, Fr.

23, Jared Curcio, WR/OLB, 6-0/200, Sr.

24, Zack Horwatt, RB/OLB, 5-8/180, Jr.

25, Austin Abell-Swarmer, RB/LB, 5-10/175, Jr.

26, Preston Lee, WR/FS, 6-0/160, Jr.

27, Jake Karns, WR/DB, 6-0/160, Jr.

28, Donovan Barsczewski, WR/DB, 5-8/150, Jr.

29, Kalil Collins, HB/DE, 6-0/245, Sr.

30, Connor Flemm, TE/LB, 6-0/205, Fr.

32, Dom Dininno, RB/DB, 5-5/140, Fr.

35, Peyton McCann, RB/LB, 5-10/170, Sr.

41, Cody Dykes, K/P, 6-0/180, So.

42, Ben Townsend, K, 5-10/140, So.

43, Donavin Harbison, HB/LB, 6-0/215, Fr.

46, Maxine Crosby, K, 5-1/140, Fr.

51, Connor Bayer, OG/DE, 6-1/220, Sr.

52, Justin Hessom, OG/NG, 5-10/180, Sr.

53, Eliam Booker, C/LB, 6-0/205, Jr.

54, Braden Mika, C/DT, 6-0/200, Fr.

55, John Drahos, OT/DT, 6-0/280, So.

56, Adam Ferraccio, C/DT, 5-10/205, Jr.

58, Will McClarnon, C/LB, 6-1/190, Sr.

60, Cody Arenth, OT/DT, 6-0/240, Jr.

61, Zac Zambo, C/DT, 5-11/220, Sr.

62, Nick Summerhill, OG/DT, 6-0/205, Sr.

65, Kendall Held, OT/DT, 6-3/215, Jr.

66, Jacob Bucci, OG/LB, 5-11/200, Fr.

68, Mike Carrarini, OG/LB, 5-11/180, So.

70, Tyler Veselicky, OT/DT, 6-1/220, Jr.

71, Donovan Gibbon, OT/DE, 5-11/160, So.

72, Sam Coleman, OT/LB, 6-0/220, So.

73, Brandon Lawhorn, OT/DT, 6-5/300, So.

74, Ben Pencak, OG/DT, 5-11/180, Fr.

76, Jack Dykes, OT/DE, 6-3/245, Sr.

77, Jack Crider, OG/DT, 5-11/200, Fr.

78, Ryan Alexander, OT/DT, 6-2/250, Fr.

80, Caleb Shultz, WR/DB, 5-8/130, Fr.

81, Holden Burkett, WR/DB, 5-9/150, So.

82, Nate Pastor, WR/DB, 6-0/160, Jr.

83, Eddie Coleman, WR/DB, 6-0/155, So.

84, David Sames, WR/DB, 6-1/170, Jr.

87, Michael Ferraccio, WR/DB, 5-7/140, So.

88, Calvin Heinle, TE/LB, 6-1/170, So.

89, Luke Emmerling, WR/DB, 5-8/150, Fr.

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


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