North Hills with plenty of ‘untold stories’ entering 2022

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Friday, August 12, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Coming off its best season since 2010, North Hills is ready to begin writing a fresh chapter. But, right now, the authors are a bit unknown.

The Indians finished 7-4 last year and claimed a three-way split of the Class 5A Northeast Conference title, falling to Peters Township in a thrilling first-round playoff game.

“We were hopeful to make a run deep into the playoffs, and we didn’t get there,” said Pat Carey, who enters his 10th season as the Indians’ head coach. “It was a bit disappointing for that group. A lot of those guys have graduated, so it makes for some tough sledding at the start of this season.”

Now, with the bright lights of Martorelli Stadium ready to be turned back on, North Hills is hoping new playmakers emerge to fill the void.

“There’s just so many untold stories right now with our young guys,” Carey said.

North Hills will look to replace much of its offensive production from 2021, including all-state wide receiver/cornerback Robert Dickerson, who is now at Robert Morris. Also gone is top rusher Liam Tracey and bruising fullback/linebacker Alec Apodaca.

While the Indians’ quarterback brings starting experience to the backfield, his younger brother — who will line up next to him — does not. Both, however, are Green.

Now a senior, John Green passed for 1,293 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, becoming more of a factor as the season went on for his clutch runs and blossoming accuracy.

“I have a feeling that we can move the ball on offense,” said Carey. “It’s centered around John Green and his effectiveness to run the ball and throw.”

Green’s younger brother, Julius, is a sophomore who will get varsity action for the first time as the team’s lead tailback.

Cooper Thompson, who lined up in the slot last year, will also get some carries. Receiver Jake Pollaro and tight end Logan Johnson bring large, 6-foot-3 frames to the passing game in the hopes to create mismatches on the outside. And Pat Carey’s son Ryan, a sophomore, will line up at tight end, as well.

“For a ninth grader, when you’re the varsity coach, you don’t get to spend as much time as you’d like with them,” the elder Carey said. “I noticed him, but I can’t say that I was hands on coaching him. So it’s been neat this year to have this experience.”

On the line, there are three holes to fill, but the anchor returns.

Logan Greer, who currently has Division II offers and is drawing interest from MAC schools, will be a key force in the trenches.

“He’s a kid that has played a lot of reps for us and has battled through injuries,” Carey said. “He’s a very strong, athletic kid who we’ll rely on a lot.”

Jacob Messina is another lineman the Indians feel is ready to pave the way for the offense. And Nico Diodati will be called on to step up on both sides of the ball.

Defensively, the cupboard isn’t totally bare, but with just a couple of returning starters, positions will be up for grabs early on. Carey, however, is optimistic that starters will emerge.

“We have a lot of young guys we’re plugging in there,” he said. “It’s a matter of those guys growing up through the preseason so that we’re ready to go with this tough schedule.”

The Indians face a strong test in the Northeast Conference, battling the likes of Pine-Richland, Penn Hills, Fox Chapel, Shaler and newly added Woodland Hills.

“It’s never easy,” Carey said. “Everybody in our conference is capable. Fox Chapel is a prime example of a team that really hung in there and won a playoff game last year. Woodland Hills has great tradition and has a history of great athletes.”

They will also go up against one of the stronger nonconference schedules in the WPIAL with games against Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair, Gateway, Seneca Valley and Franklin Regional.

“It’s challenging, but that’s the way you want it,” Carey added. “You want to go against the best. It could be problematic with injuries, but you’re hopeful that you can gain some experience so that when you get into conference play, you’ve grown up a bit. But we’ll have our hands full.”

A year ago, Carey felt the buzz around Martorelli Stadium. The community, coming out of the heaviest grips of the pandemic, showed up in droves, and North Hills football was a must-see event again for many in the area.

Now, he hopes that the steps taken by the program in 2021 carry over to a much more inexperienced group this season.

“I always tell the kids, Friday nights are a big deal at Martorelli Stadium,” he said. “It’s a tribute to our community, who we are and the feel they have for football. It’s always exciting.

“But you have to win games to make it even more exciting as the year goes on.”

North Hills

Coach: Pat Carey

2021 record: 7-4, 4-1 in Class 5A Northeast Conference

All-time record: 509-315-27

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 at Bethel Park, 7

9.2 Upper St. Clair, 7

9.9 Gateway, 7

9.16 at Woodland Hills*, 7

9.23 at Penn Hills*, 7

9.30 Fox Chapel*, 7

10.7 Shaler*, 7

10.14 at Seneca Valley, 7:30

10.21 Franklin Regional, 7

10.28 at Pine-Richland*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: John Green

89-152, 1,293 yards, 12TDs

Rushing: Liam Tracey*

112-778, 8 TDs

Receiving: Robert Dickerson*

27-457, 7TD

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Logan Greer currently has collegiate offers from Waynesburg, Clarion and Wheeling University.

• North Hills’ defense allowed 16.9 points per game last season, the best mark in the Northeast Conference.

• Pat Carey, a 1988 North Hills grad, won a WPIAL and national title in 1987 as a captain with the Indians.

• The last time North Hills won a postseason game was 2010.

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