North Hills football season defined by close games

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Sunday, November 21, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The North Hills football team was able to welcome back full capacity crowds at Martorelli Stadium this fall. And they definitely gave the red-and-white-clad faithful their money’s worth.

The Indians finished the year with a 7-4 record, going 4-1 in Class 5A’s Northeast Conference and splitting the conference title with Penn Hills and Pine-Richland.

North Hills received the No. 6 seed in the Class 5A playoffs but fell 33-28 to Peters Township at Martorelli Stadium on Nov. 5.

The season-ending loss continued a trend of close games for the Indians. North Hills played six games with a final margin of 10 points or less.

“We had a lot of close calls,” coach Pat Carey said. “Seneca Valley (a 17-7 loss) was a game we were in and could’ve won. Penn Hills (a 35-29 defeat) is another one that comes to mind. We were in those games late and couldn’t get it done. That speaks to the playoff game, too.”

Outside of a 38-7 loss to Moon, North Hills’ three other defeats came by a combined 21 points.

“But overall, you get a home playoff game and you go 7-4 overall, this season was a good one,” Carey added.

A dynamic trio paced the Indians.

Senior wide receiver Robert Dickerson was a constant deep play and special teams threat, racking up 457 receiving yards and scoring seven touchdowns.

During the season, Dickerson committed to Bucknell for baseball and football, but reopened his recruiting a few weeks later.

One of Dickerson’s classmates, tailback Liam Tracey, ran for 778 yards and eight scores, averaging seven yards per carry.

“(Tracey) was really good,” Carey said. “His vision is what made him special, and his ability to make cuts on a dime. And Robert was always a threat. Any time you could get the ball in his hands, he was a threat that people had to worry about.

“Those two guys will be difficult to replace. Our senior class was a strong group. I was happy with the effort they put in and the leadership they showed throughout the season.”

Carey is encouraged by junior quarterback John Green, who ended up passing for 1,293 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He also ran for six more touchdowns.

“It was his confidence,” Carey said. “Going into the year, we anticipated that, with him being a new starter, there would be some bumps in the road. I think there were. But overall he’s just a really excitable kid, a great leader, and he played really well down the stretch.”

Allowing just 16.9 points per game, North Hills sported the best defense in the Northeast Conference this season, too.

“We played really well,” Carey said. “They’ve us a chance to be in every game, for sure. There were a lot of games where they led the way for us.”

Seven wins are the most for North Hills since the 2010 season, which is also the last time the program won a playoff game. But Carey hopes that, with some improvement this offseason, and if they can fill the voids left by the departing seniors, that North Hills can again rise to prominence.

“Accountability and attention to detail is where we have to improve as a team,” he said. “There’s a whole lot of good and a handful of guys coming back. We’re optimistic.”

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