Ligonier Valley looks to maintain level of success in District 6

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | 9:55 AM


Ligonier Valley has been one of the best teams from District 6 over the past four seasons.

The Rams are 49-6 in that span, including a 40-3 mark the past three seasons that include three consecutive Heritage Conference titles and three straight District 6 title game trips, winning in 2017 and ’18.

And they’re set to make another run this season.

Ligonier Valley returns 18 seniors, its entire offensive and defensive line, top running backs and some electrifying playmakers.

Teams in the Heritage Conference could be in store for some long nights trying to stop the high-powered Rams.

“A couple concerns coming into the season were the secondary and receiving corps,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “But the players have worked hard in the offseason, and we’re going to be OK.”

The Rams must replace all-state wide receiver Aaron Tutino, who is at St. Francis (Pa.), and record-setting quarterback John Caldwell. Other key losses were defensive backs Zach Beitel and Sullivan Schueltz, and linemen Blake Bridge and Lukas DeWitt.

Senior Sam Sheeder is in line to take over the quarterback duties. He was the Rams’ starter in 2017 before an injury ended his season. Sheeder was 7 of 10 for 29 yards.

Caldwell finished the 2017 season at quarterback and guided the Rams to a District 6 Class 2A title and a berth in the PIAA quarterfinals.

Last season, Caldwell was the quarterback for the majority of the plays, while Sheeder was used in the wildcat. He was the team’s second-leading receiver with 47 catches for 743 yards and seven touchdowns. Sheeder rushed for 356 yards and seven touchdowns.

In the backfield, seniors Kyrie Miller and Ayden Kelley will be the primary runners. Miller rushed for 1,561 yards and scored 23 touchdowns, and Kelley rushed for 174 yards and four scores last season.

The Rams also could have another 1,500-yard runner in the lineup — senior Kyle Silk. A transfer from United, he was ruled ineligible by District 6 officials Aug. 7. Silk and Ligonier Valley are appealing to the PIAA.

If Silk plays, the Rams could use him a various offensive positions (quarterback, running back and wide receiver). He was a quarterback at United.

Paving the way for the skilled players are the Rams’ massive offensive linemen, led by Division I prospects Michael Petrof (committed to Navy), Christian Jablonski (committed to Lehigh) and Wylie Spiker (offers from three schools). Petrof plays left guard, Spiker left tackle and Jablonski right tackle.

The others back up front are sophomore center Jude Grzywinski and senior right guard Alex Torrance. Beitel expects Gabe Gonda, Dunavin Graham and Nathaniel Neiderhiser to earn playing time.

Gage Dowden returns at tight end, and John Beard is back at receiver. Nick Beitel, Grant Dowden, Matthew Marinchak and Khorter Drury are vying for spots at wide receiver.

The defense is led by a stout line of Petrof, Jablonski, Spiker and Grzywinski. A coach from Downingtown East nicknamed the group ‘The Great Wall of China” at a team camp in Shippensburg.

“The defense will be bigger and stronger,” Coach Beitel said. “The front seven will be very good.”

The linebackers will include Kelley and Ethan Boring on the inside and Miller, Silk and either sophomores Kaden Faas or Miles Higgins.

Beitel said the secondary is rounding into shape with senior Joey Ersick and Nick Beitel, the coach’s son, at cornerback and Sheeder and Beard at safety.

Schedule

Coach: Roger Beitel

2018 record: 12-1, 8-0

All-time record: 451-492-40

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, Homer-Center*, 7

8.30, at Penns Manor*, 7

9.7, United*, 1

9.13, at Saltsburg*, 7

9.20, West Shamokin*, 7

9.27, at Purchase Line*, 7

10.4, Marion Center*, 7

10.11, at Northern Cambria*, 7

10.18, Blairsville*, 7

*Distinct 6 Heritage Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: John Caldwell*

152-230, 2,648 yards, 36 TDs

Receiving: Aaron Tutino*

66-1,263 yards, 21 TDs

Rushing: Kyrie Miller

184-1,561 yards, 23 TDs

*Graduated

Ligonier Valley roster

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

1, Logan Foust, SE/DB, 5-6/117, So.

3, Broderick Schreyer, QB/DB, 5-5/149, Fr.

4, Brody Kreiger, SE/DB, 5-7/131, Fr.

5, Nick Beitel, RB/DB, 5-7/160, So.

7, Nick Lonas, SE/DB, 5-7/131, Fr.

8, Ethan Boring, TE/LB, 5-11/171, Sr.

9, Kyle Silk, RB/QB/LB, 6-1/210, Sr.

10, Abe Mundorff, RB/LB, 5-9/150, Fr.

11, Jasper Arnone, SE/DB, 6-0/165, Sr.

12, Dylan Plummer, SE/DB, 5-10/132, Fr.

13, Grant Dowden, RB/DB, 5-11/145, So.

15, Miles Higgins, TE/LB, 6-3/220, So.

16, Sam Sheeder, QB/LB, 5-10/180, Sr.

17, Haden Sierocky, QB/DB, 5-11/153, Fr.

19, Matthew Marinchak, SE/DB, 6-1/170, So.

21, Sam Mundorf, RB/LB, 5-4/152, So.

24, Logan Johnston, RB/DB, 5-8/126, Fr.

25, Ayden Kelley, RB/LB, 5-9/217, Sr.

26, Khorter Drury, RB/DB, 5-7/146, So.

28, Kaden Faas, RB/LB, 5-10/170, So.

29, Kyrie Miller, RB/LB, 5-9/170, Sr.

33, Lanigan McCulty, RB/DB, 5-8/145, Fr.

35, Bruce Kreiger, SE/DB, 5-8/145, Fr.

42, Logan Palmer, SE/DB, 5-9/136, Fr.

43, Jacob Hay, TE/DL, 6-1/172, So.

44, Joe Ersick, RB/DB, 5-7/151, Sr.

46, Mason Mohnkern, RB/LB, 5-11/151, Fr.

50, Wade Peters, OL/DL, 5-11/242, Jr.

51, Jesse Turner, OL/LB, 5-8/157, Fr.

53, Derek Fox, OL/DL, 6-0/230, Jr.

54, Michael Petrof, OL/DL, 6-2/275, Sr.

55, Christian Jablonski, OL/DE, 6-5/260, Sr.

56, Logan Shaftic, OL/DL, 6-0/226, So.

57, Isaac Piper, OL/DE, 6-5/195, So.

58, Gabe Gonda, OL/DE, 6-1/231, Sr.

60, Colten Foust, OL/DL, 5-7/174, So.

62, James Pleskovitch, OL/DL, 6-2/216, Fr.

63, Billy Sugden, OL/DL, 6-1/200, Fr.

65, Nathaniel Neiderhiser, OL/DL, 5-10/222, Sr.

66, Wylie Spiker, OL/DL, 6-3/261, Sr.

71, Alex Torrance, OL/DL, 6-0/250, Sr.

72, Frankie Hernandez, OL/DL, 5-9/280, Jr.

74, Jude Grzywinski, OL/DL, 6-3/275, So.

75, Colin Smith, OL/DL, 5-11/228, Fr.

76, Dunavin Graham, OL/DL, 6-6/316, Sr.

77, Tylan Wilkins, OL/DL, 5-11/286, Fr.

78, Corey Deist, OL/DL, 5-11/286, Sr.

82, Cameron Mears, SE/LB, 5-9/151, Sr.

83, McKinley Shearer, TE/LB, 5-11/171, Fr.

88, John Beard, SE/DB, 6-0/160, Sr.

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

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