New-look offense has Shaler football team rolling

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Sunday, September 26, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Stopping the Shaler football team’s offense requires doing some thinking.

Opponents expecting the same old thing may be caught in some of the window dressing. By revitalizing the presentation, the Titans have made themselves a difficult group to prepare for.

Shaler, which got off to a 2-2 start, scored 100 points through its first four games, despite being shut out 24-0 by West Allegheny on Sept. 17 on the road.

In seven games last season, Shaler scored 92 points total.

“We are an offense that wears many formations,” Titans coach Jim Ryan said following a 25-6 home win over Mars. “We do it very well. We are confident we are able to do that and give our opponents more to prepare for.”

One benefit the Titans enjoyed was a chance to let the offense marinate before Northern Conference play started. Shaler, which was set to wrap up its nonconference schedule with a Sept. 25 home game against Penn-Trafford, opens conference play Oct. 1 at Fox Chapel.

“It comes down to the kids are bought and sold on the new system and the philosophy that we are teaching,” Ryan said following the win over Mars. “I couldn’t be more proud of the kids.”

Quarterback Keegan Smetanka has been a steady hand under center. Josh Miller has led the team in rushing, while Luke Cignetti also has a role in the running game.

Augie Tortorea has served an important short-yardage back for the Titans.

Dylan Schlagel, Brandon London and Kaden Orga have all hauled in big catches.

“I think it’s all the extra work we were able to put in,” Cignetti said. “It’s definitely different from last year. We could barely get in any practice time due to covid. The team seems more connected and willing to trust in each other.”

That cohesion showed up during Week Zero. Shaler rolled up 456 yards of total offense en route to a 37-20 road win over New Castle.

Smetanka, who passed for 263 yards and three scores against the Red Hurricane, also scored on a run in the season opener.

“Our offense is far superior to what it was last year,” Cignetti said. “The line is getting blocks. Running backs are getting reads and cuts. This year as a whole, we are playing better football.”

Shaler is hoping the success on offense will continue into conference play.

The Titans want to make a return trip to the playoffs after missing out last season.

“The main goal is making the playoffs,” Cignetti said. “We want to make sure we are perfect. We want to give 110% effort at every practice. We never want to leave the field feeling like we could have done more or had a better day of practice.”

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