OLSH football team reloads hoping for another championship run
Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | 8:04 PM
Last fall, OLSH football enjoyed unprecedented success.
The Chargers won a Big 7 Conference title and a WPIAL Class A championship for the first time in program history. A 41-10 setback to Farrell ended OLSH’s season at 12-2 in the PIAA semifinals. It marked the end for 15 seniors, which left the Chargers with plenty of voids in the lineup.
“There are lots of big holes to fill,” OLSH coach Dan Bradley said. “Our underclassmen are stepping up and working hard. They saw the success we’ve had the past couple years, and they’re seeing opportunities to play and they are ready.”
The biggest hole may be at quarterback, where Tyler Bradley, the coach’s son, passed for 8,466 yards — fourth-most in WPIAL history — in his standout career. In addition, the team graduated all of its top rushers and receivers.
“It has been a challenge to replace all that we lost,” OLSH senior Brock Saftner said. “I think that we definitely have the skill, but we just don’t have the experience. At the end of games last year, we were able to get a bunch of guys in to get some experience, so that helps.
“I am very confident in my teammates that they will step up.”
The Chargers return veterans on the offensive and defensive lines, though. Four returning starters are back on the offensive line in Jake Pendred, Nico Harken, Danny Farrell and Dion McIntosh.
“Last year, that was our question mark, but they got better as the season went on. Now they are a strength, and we expect to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Dan Bradley said. “We’re leaning on them a little bit to get us through some games until the skill guys get experience and get it rolling in the second half of the season.”
Sophomore Jaymar Pearson takes over at quarterback. He saw time as a running back last year, and OLSH hopes to take advantage of his legs.
“We’re picking up where we left off. The terminology and everything is the same, so it’s not totally new to him,” Dan Bradley said. “We may run the ball a little more this year than in previous years, but he is a good decision-maker and has a great arm. He makes plays.”
Sophomore Stephen Greer is back to lead the backfield, along with fullback Saftner.
“We have a bunch of rising sophomores and juniors really pushing for starting spots,” Saftner said. “We’re really just working hard to make sure they are ready for game time and have the mentality of what it takes to win. We’re working to get our teammates ready for what it takes.”
The Chargers hope the team’s success breeds more success.
“All the guys got coaching and opportunities in practice as freshmen and sophomores. The lights are on them a little bit now, and they’re getting more reps. They are ready to go,” Dan Bradley said. “The best players will play, and there’s a lot of competition going on out there. Fortunately for us, we’ve had some success and maybe our levels of expectation are a little higher than what they should be. But we are a confident group, not a cocky group, and we’re ready to play.”
OLSH’s returning players want to add their own chapter to the program.
“Last year showed us what was needed to be done in order to win a championship and how to come together as a brotherhood to push each other,” Saftner said. “We’re keeping focused on the goal of winning another WPIAL title and getting to the state championship. That has really driven us.”
Coach: Dan Bradley
2018 record: 12-2, 7-0
All-time record: 41-49
Date, Opponent, Time
8.24, Westinghouse+, 2
8.30, at Sto-Rox*, 7
9.6, at Northgate*, 7
9.13, Rochester*, 7
9.21, at Bishop Canevin*^, 7
9.27, at Laurel*, 7
10.5, Jeannette, 7
10.11, at Jefferson-Morgan, 7
10.18, Union*, 7
10.25, Cornell*, 7
*Class A Big 7 Conference game
^At Dormont Stadium
Passing: Tyler Bradley*
212-325, 3,366 yards, 45 TDs
Receiving: Richard Banks*
59-859 yards, 14 TDs
Rushing: Austin Wigley*
163-837 yards, 3 TDs
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
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