No rust for Apollo-Ridge as it cruises past Shady Side Academy

Friday, October 9, 2020 | 10:17 PM

A week away from game action didn’t slow Apollo-Ridge’s momentum.

The Class 2A No. 4 Vikings on Friday got on the scoreboard early and added on from there in a 42-7 victory over Shady Side Academy in an Allegheny Conference matchup at Owens Field in Apollo.

“I thought our guys were sharp,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “They came out and did what they needed to do. They had a little bit of a lull (in the first half), but then they picked it right back up.”

Apollo-Ridge originally was scheduled to face Summit Academy in Week 4, but when Summit canceled its season in August, it created the hole in the Vikings’ schedule.

The win for Apollo-Ridge sets up a clash of the unbeatens next Friday in McKeesport. Serra Catholic, No. 5 in the Class 2A rankings, improved to 4-0 Friday with a 48-15 victory over Ligonier Valley.

“We are pretty excited for next week, obviously,” Skiba said. “Everyone is going to want to see it. It’s going to be good.”

Apollo-Ridge and Shady Side Academy resumed their conference series after not playing last year when Shady Side forfeited to Apollo-Ridge, citing a lack of healthy players.

Friday’s win avenged a 63-21 loss to Shady Side from 2018 as well as a 38-14 setback from 2017. Apollo-Ridge also took an 11-10 lead in the all-time series, which began in 1994.

A Klay Fitzroy interception on Shady Side Academy’s second play of its opening drive set up Apollo-Ridge with a short field.

The Vikings turned the turnover into points as Jake Fello connected with Keighton Reese from 10 yards to get on the scoreboard. A Gavin Cole point-after kick made it 7-0 just three minutes into the game.

“We practiced two weeks straight for (Shady Side), and we knew what we were coming into,” said Reese, who finished with four catches for 76 yards. “We just needed to execute. That first drive, that’s what we did.”

Fello finished with 142 yards passing and now has 799 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. He threw his first interception of the season early in the third quarter, but Shady Side was not able to take advantage.

Logan Harmon added 123 yards on 16 carries. He scored on runs of 10, 5, 4 and 6 to give him 10 touchdowns for the season. His yardage total for the game moves him to within 117 of 3,000 for his career.

Apollo-Ridge led 28-0 at halftime, and Harmon’s final score of the game at the 7:32 mark of the third put the mercy rule running clock into effect.

While Friday’s game was the fourth for the Vikings, it was just the third of the season for Shady Side Academy, which lost its season opener with Summit Academy.

Another game, a Sept. 18 nonconference contest against Carlynton, was canceled before the start of the season as the school sought to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus.

“That is a group at Apollo-Ridge which has been around for a while,” Shady Side Academy coach Chuck DiNardo said. “We’ve seen a lot of these same faces for the last four years. They’ve been hardened by the process. Hats off to them. We’re a young team, and we’re taking the same path. We hope to get to where (Apollo-Ridge) is right now.”

Shady Side Academy got on the board late in the third quarter. Josh Castro completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Jones.

Castro finished the game 13 of 26 for 107 yards.

“We have a very resilient bunch,” DiNardo said. “That’s a thing I like about this team. We continue to fight. We’re going to play for 48 minutes. We did some nice things in the second half. We had some young kids come in and really step up.”

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

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