Northgate aims to end lengthy losing streak

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020 | 11:22 PM


Northgate had a young roster last year when it struggled and finished winless.

The Flames’ losing streak, which dates to 2017, reached 24 games.

But hope flickers on the eve of a new season.

“We’ve been young the last couple years,” third-year coach Mike Fulmore said. “We have had some leadership issues, but we’ve made improvements. I have more guys who have played for me now than guys who haven’t. This has been a process. We’re trying to establish a culture with continuity.”

Fulmore will turn to a junior-heavy class of two-year starters to help the program turn a corner.

“This is their team,” he said of the Class of 2022.

An experienced line returns most of its key components, including Vito Pascale (6-3, 220), Jake Harrison, Leroy Wheeler, Israel Sustayta (6-3, 260), Damion Pike and Dylan McWilliams.

“McWilliams has worked so hard in the offseason,” Fulmore said. “I think he jumped two years ahead.”

At quarterback, the Flames will look to junior Davonte Christie, who played some under center last year after taking most of the snaps as a freshman.

“He’s a tough kid who is going to give us everything he has,” Fulmore said. “He’s spinning the ball well this summer.”

Christie is a playmaker with his feet, but he can’t go it alone, which means junior Delvin Mitchell (6-2, 175) will be counted on as potential pass catcher or rusher.

Fulmore is anxious to see what sophomore Lewis Clark can do as a slot receiver.

“The thing about Single-A is that you look for guys with versatility because you may move them around,” the coach said. “We want guys who can slide into any position.”

Senior newcomer LeVar Green could provide a boost in the backfield since coming over from the basketball team.

Sophomore Jaden Mitchell is another one to watch.

Sealing up the defense was a point of emphasis heading into training camp. Last year, the Flames surrendered 51.1 points per game, the most in the WPIAL.

“Keeping the points off the board is going to be a big key to our success,” Fulmore said. “We take ownership of (the points allowed), and we know we have to get those stops.”

Bundles of points on the wrong side of the scoreboard only hinders the custom of players ringing the victory bell at Alumni Field in Bellevue.

“We talk about pride, grit and toughness,” Fulmore said. “If we do the right things, the wins will come.”

Schedule

Coach: Mike Fulmore

2019 record: 0-9, 0-7 in Class A Big Seven Conference

All-time record: 205-225-7

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, Rochester*, 7

9.18, Cornell*, 7

9.25, at Union*, 7

10.2, Fort Cherry*, 7

10.9, Shenango*, 7

10.17, at Burgettstown*, 1:30

10.23, at OLSH*, 7

*Class A Big Seven Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Christian Davin*

104-231, 1,050 yards, 11 TDs

Receiving: Delvin Mitchell

43-494 yards, 4 TDs

Rushing: Jeff Roberts

34-94 yards

*Graduated

Fast facts

• Northgate averaged just 12.1 points last season and rushed for less than 200 yards as a team.

• The Flames’ last win was Sept. 22, 2017 when they defeated Sto-Rox, 17-14, at Stone Field in North Park.

• Fulmore added Northgate alum Chris “Lucky” Lucas to his coaching staff. Lucas was the offensive coordinator at North Catholic when the Trojans won a PIAA title in 2013 when Fulmore’s son, P.J., was the quarterback.

• The Flames are scheduled to open Big Seven Conference play at home against Rochester on Sept. 11.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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