New coach hopes to bring about change at Carrick

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Friday, August 25, 2023 | 1:14 AM


There’s a theme of change surrounding the Carrick football program.

Dennis “Shor D” Wolford, who was the Raiders’ offensive coordinator last season, has moved into the head coach position, replacing Greg Johnston, who was 2-14 in two seasons at the helm.

And he is focusing on making changes, starting in the community.

“We had a Raider Walk two weeks ago,” he said. “We walked through the community with their uniforms on, cleaned up around the community so people in the community know the guys are doing something positive.”

It’s something that hits home for Wolford, who was a slot receiver and kick returner at Carrick from 1989-93.

“(I took the job) for the players,” said Wolford, who was an assistant coach at University Prep from 2015-21. “I had a good relationship with most of the players returning. I felt like we can get some community involvement and get Carrick back to some type of good standing again.”

The Raiders, who are playing as an independent within the Pittsburgh City League for the fifth straight season, finished 2-7 last season after an 0-7 mark in 2021.

Wolford also wants to see change in the win-loss record.

“In previous years, we haven’t won many games,” he said. “Last year we won two. We’re trying to build on that success, see how may games we can come away with.”

Helping to fuel that turnaround is quarterback Zion Frye. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound junior threw for more than 1,500 yards last season.

“I expect for him to have a better season, more understanding of my system,” Wolford said. “He’s grown. I feel everyone should have a better season playing a year under the system, come back a little more hungry.

“He’s able to read the defense better. He’s more of a leader now. He’s taking on that leadership role.”

Sophomore Stephon Malloy will get the bulk of the carries in the backfield after limited work last season. The wide receiver corps will include sophomore Kejuan Johnson and juniors Marcus Fields and Ashton Smith, among others.

Fields caught 19 passes for 253 yards and Johnson had nine catches for 144 yards in 2022.

“Our passing game is going to be pretty good,” Wolford said.

Jahmeer Griffin, Javon Mott and Jeffrey Wright return to anchor the offensive line.

“On the offensive side of the ball, I think we can be pretty special,” Wolford said.

Led by defensive coordinator Kenny Wright, Carrick’s defense will rely on a few playmakers in the front seven — sophomore linebackers Brian Babjak and Jayden Wise and junior defensive end Isaiah Johnson — plus Fields, Frye and Johnson in the secondary.

Carrick will open the season at Carlynton on Friday. The Raiders will play two City League rivals at Cupples Stadium — Brashear on Sept. 15 and Perry on Oct. 5.

Carrick

Coach: Dennis Wolford

2022 record: 2-7

All-time record: 332-475-47

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.25, at Carlynton, 7

9.1, at Albert Gallatin, 7

9.8, at Uniontown, 7

9.15, Brashear, 7

9.22, Brownsville, 3:30

9.30, at Central Catholic (Steubenville, Ohio), 7

10.5, Perry, 7

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Zion Frye

85-141, 1,503 yards, 5 TDs

Rushing: Frye

32-177 yards, 2 TDs

Receiving: Rashod Woods*

42-796 yards, 5 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Coach Dennis “Shor D” Wolford went on to play at Waynesburg after high school and then continued to play semi-pro football.

• Carrick won its season opener last year, a 21-0 victory over Carlynton. The Raiders also beat Brownsville, 42-8.

• The Raiders were outscored 279-68 last season.

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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