New dual-threat QB brings excitement to North Hills
Thursday, August 19, 2021 | 6:01 AM
North Hills is talented and experienced on defense this season, and a little bit Green at quarterback.
But that’s just fine.
Speedy junior John Green will take over under center, giving the Indians a dynamic dual-threat quarterback as they try to return to the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs following a rare miss during last year’s 3-4 covid-shortened season.
Green, listed at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, dazzled while rising through North Hills’ youth and junior varsity football programs. He was a WPIAL track qualifier in the 100- and 200-meter dashes this past spring and showed off his quickness and elusiveness during a late July team workout under the lights at Martorelli Stadium.
“He’s somebody that we’ve had our eye on for a couple years, and we think he’s ready to do it,” said coach Pat Carey, entering his ninth season. “He’s been fantastic (this offseason). He’s a kid that you like to have on your team. He’s a vocal leader. He leads by example. He’s a good kid. He’s everything that you really want in a quarterback. We think he’s somebody that can really mature into a nice player for us.”
Green saw limited time at quarterback last season, completing 5 of 17 passes for 154 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions backing up one-year starter Ethan Marker.
But Green had a strong summer and gives North Hills its first true dual-threat quarterback in a while. Carey has tweaked the offense to take advantage of his gifted junior’s skillset.
“We’re really excited to see what he can do,” Carey said. “He’s very raw right now talent-wise, but we think he’s a kid that can throw it and run and he adds another dimension to the offense that we really like.”
Carey is also excited about senior wide receiver/defensive back Robert Dickerson, a game-breaking talent with multiple Division I offers. The 6-foot, 190-pound Dickerson saw only 51 touches on offense last season but amassed more than 1,000 total yards — he is a feared kick returner — and scored a team-high nine touchdowns from an average distance of 52 yards. Carey has promised to find more ways to get Dickerson the ball, such as jet sweeps and quick tosses in the slot.
“We’re going to try to move him around and create space for him,” Carey said. “He is a really put-together young man, and it makes for a good player on both sides of the ball.”
Other key returnees on offense are senior running back Liam Tracey, who gained 111 yards on 13 carries last season behind graduated all-conference running back Curtis Foskey; and a trio of offensive linemen, seniors Chris Copp and Collin Quinn and junior Logan Greer.
“We’re very motivated, and I think we are looking pretty good,” Tracey said. “I think we will have a good shot.”
The Indians are established on defense, returning eight starters, including six players who earned some form of all-Northeast Conference recognition.
“I have really high expectations,” said senior linebacker Alec Apodaca, a three-year starter and second-team all-conference pick last season. “It’s my last year. We have a lot of returning seniors on defense and if our offense can pull it together, I think we will have a lot of success.”
Other returning starters on defense are Dickerson, a first-team all-conference selection at DB; defensive linemen Copp, Riley Davis and junior Sam Coldren; linebacker Tanner Ilnicki, the team’s leading tackler last season; and defensive backs Tracey (second-team all-conference) and Chase Foskey.
Carey started at defensive back for North Hills’ 1987 USA Today national champion, arguably the best team in WPIAL history, and knows the tradition of the Indians program as well as anyone. He said the energy shown in the weight room and conditioning this offseason revealed his players’ drive to return to the playoffs after last year’s letdown.
“Our kids are upset about it,” he said. “That’s the expectation here, and we’ve got to get in and make a little run and we’re hoping with this group that we can.”
Coach: Pat Carey
2019 record: 3-4, 3-2 in Class 5A Northeast Conference
All-time record: 502-311-27
Date, Opponent, Time
8.27 at Mars, 7
9.3 Plum, 7
9.10 Seneca Valley, 7
9.17 at Moon, 7
9.24 at Woodland Hills, 7
10.1 Kiski Area*, 7
10.8 at Penn Hills*, 7
10.15 Pine-Richland*, 7
10.22, Fox Chapel*, 7
10.29 at Shaler*, 7
Passing: Ethan Marker*
36-74, 409 yards, 6 TDs
Receiving: Robert Dickerson
22-347, 3 TDs
Rushing: Curtis Foskey*
54-309, 4 TDs
• North Hills missed the WPIAL playoffs last season for only the third time in the past 22 years. The Indians haven’t missed back-to-back postseasons since 1997-98, the two years after former All-American LaVar Arrington graduated.
• North Hills last season won its 500th game in program history, becoming the 22nd WPIAL school to reach the milestone. The Indians are 502-311-27 since 1937.
• A pair of first-year starters expected to make an impact are senior linebacker Jayden Smith and sophomore tight end Logan Johnson.
• When the Indians visit Woodland Hills on Sept. 24, they will try to win at the Wolvarena for the first time in 11 years, going 0-3 in that span, including a 41-2 loss in the 2014 WPIAL Class 4A playoffs.
Tags: North Hills
More Football• PIAA football Class 6A championship preview: North Allegheny vs. St. Joseph’s Prep
• PIAA football Class 3A championship preview: Belle Vernon vs. Northwestern Lehigh
• Belle Vernon ready to finish job in state championship vs. Northwestern Lehigh
• Connellsville school board decides to opt out of WPIAL football schedule, play as an independent
• PIAA football Class 5A championship preview: Peters Township vs. Imhotep Charter