Ligonier Valley favored again; Hearing set for QB Silk

Saturday, August 3, 2019 | 5:41 PM

To no one’s surprise, Ligonier Valley again is the favorite to win the Heritage Conference title.

If the Rams achieve the feat, it would be their fourth consecutive championship.

But can anyone challenge them?

“I hope there is someone,” Purchase Line coach Matt Falisec said. “No one has the past three seasons.”

Purchase Line, on paper, could give Ligonier Valley a run. The Red Dragons return nine starters on offense and eight on defense. They finished 3-8 last season, qualified the District 6 Class A playoffs and lost to United, 14-6, in overtime.

The Red Dragons are a running team, and they return their top two rushers, junior Josh Syster and senior Cullen Gonchar, along with quarterback Jacob Barnett.

“To be successful, we’ll have to tackle better on defense and be more disciplined,” Falisec said. “We also have to build some depth on the lines.”

Ligonier Valley, 12-1 and 9-0, is set for another long run.

The Rams have veteran offensive and defensive lines that feature four Division I prospects in seniors Michael Petrof (Navy), Christian Jablonski (Lehigh), Wylie Spiker (Robert Morris and St. Francis) and sophomore Jade Grzywinski.

Also back is senior running back Kyrie Miller, quarterback Sam Sheeder, fullback Ayden Kelly and wide receivers Cade Dowden and John Beard.

Kyle Silk, who was United’s quarterback the past two seasons, transferred into the district. He will have a hearing with District 6 on Wednesday to see if he is eligible.

Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said Silk transferred in June, and his family moved into the district.

Silk threw for 428 yards and rushed for 1,505 yards for the Lions last season. He was named second-team all-state. Miller rushed for 1,561 yards for the Rams.

Sheeder rushed for 356 yards and caught 47 passes for 743 yards in 2018.

Ligonier Valley played in its third consecutive District 6 title game last season and lost to Richland. The Rams want their third district title in four years.

The four teams that finished behind Ligonier Valley — North Cambria, United, West Shamokin and Homer-Center — have holes to fill after being hit hard by graduation.

United lost to Juniata Valley in the District 6 Class A title game last season.

The Heritage Conference went 10-0 against the WestPAC Conference on crossover games last season.

Saltsburg, which went 1-1 in the playoffs, return the third most starters behind Ligonier Valley and Purchase Line: six on offense and six on defense.

The Trojans backfield of quarterback Josh Gibbons, fullback Alex Lassick and Angelo Bartolini is back.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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