Penn-Trafford has championship aspirations

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Friday, August 16, 2019 | 10:22 PM


Penn-Trafford is a program that never seems to take a heavy hit from graduation losses.

Sure, there is turnover, and top players move on to college like every other team, but it doesn’t faze the Warriors who — what else is new? — are going to be good again.

Player development and a stick-to-the-script philosophy have a lot to do with the team’s competitive reputation and accompanying results.

“We have numbers here,” coach John Ruane said. “Our ninth grade is an enormous program, and with our freshmen having a team, we don’t have to move guys up so our 10th- and 11th-graders are seeing varsity time. And we have a consistent level of kids here in the offseason. If they’re not playing a winter sport, they’re here and dedicated with their work ethic.”

Penn-Trafford has made the WPIAL finals or semifinals in five of the last six years. It finished runner-up in Class 5A in 2017 and 4A in ’15.

Last year, the Warriors were on the wrong end of a quarterfinal thriller as they traded scores with Peters Township before falling 38-35.

“Our goal still is to get to the championship. That’s our goal every year,” Ruane said. “That doesn’t change.”

Another playoff push could depend on the push the Warriors can get up front. An experienced line returns five starters — seniors Derek Sutherland, Anthony Youngo, Dylan Schmidt, Michael Ritter and Josh Cheplick.

“We’ll go as far as they take us,” Ruane said. “They’re athletes. They’re not just big kids. They can move.”

Giving senior running back Caleb Lisbon time to run is a key for the Warriors — and a dangerous endeavor for opponents. Lisbon, a Division I prospect with speed and power, ran for 1,329 yards and 17 touchdowns last season as the Warriors put up 37.8 points per game.

“We need to get him off to a fast start,” Ruane said.

Dual-threat quarterback Gabe Dunlap also returns after passing for 1,306 yards and 15 touchdowns, and rushing for 971 yards and 12 scores.

Dunlap, a senior, and junior Ethan Carr both could see time under center.

Carr, a big target at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, also is a sure-handed receiver who can be effective in traffic or downfield.

“We have two dual-threat QBs,” Ruane said. “Gabe is the guy going in, but it’s an open competition.”

That being said, all that offensive potential begins with the blockers.

“We just need to come in every day and work as hard as we can,” said Sutherland, who has a college offer from Valparaiso where Penn-Trafford grad Dave Bucar is the offensive line coach. “Experience means everything to us. Getting on the field means a lot. If you don’t play on Friday nights, you don’t know what a monster the season is.”

Senior Sam Fanelli also returns in the backfield and will be a key linebacker, and junior Nate Frye is another potential ball carrier.

Ruane said he would prefer to play an many players one way as possible, but in some cases, that won’t be possible; Lisbon, for instance, at safety.

Additional receivers to watch include 6-2 senior Noah Allen, and juniors Mason Frye, Chase Vecchio, Silas Koscho and Chris Popovich.

Allen had 17 catches for 214 yards last season.

Senior Peyton Kelly is back on the defensive line after making a key impact for the unit last year. He made 58 tackles and posted 312 sacks as a junior.

At linebacker, where the most turnover occurred, seniors Chase Burk (62 tackles) and Cole Defillippo should be keys in the run-stopping game, along with Fanelli.

Penn-Trafford will open the season Friday at home against rival Norwin.

Warrior Stadium had new turf installed over the summer with a green-and-gold, lemon-lime look. The midfield logo, numbers and end zones are mustard yellow, and the green carpet is two-toned.

The Warriors have an intriguing opponent in Week 4. They will travel to play national power Massillon Washington (Ohio) on Sept. 20.

“It will be a fun trip, but we’re not even talking about that one right now,” Ruane said. “We have some huge games before that.”

Schedule

Coach: John Ruane

2018 record: 9-3, 6-1

All-time record: 290-189-10

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, Norwin, 7:30

8.30, Gateway*, 7:30

9.6, at Connellsville*, 7

9.13, McKeesport*, 7:30

9.20, at Massillon Washington (Ohio), 7:30

9.27, Plum*, 7:30

10.4, at Latrobe*, 7

10.11, Trinity, 7:30

10.18, at Hampton, 7

10.25, at Franklin Regional*, 7

*Class 5A Big East Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Gabe Dunlap

81-143, 1,306 yards, 15 TDs

Receiving: Dimitri George*

36-699 yards, 8 TDs

Rushing: Caleb Lisbon

157-1,329 yards, 17 TDs

*Graduated

Penn-Trafford roster

No., Name, Pos., Ht./Wt., Cl.

1, Cole Defillippo, HB/LB, 6-2/200, Sr.

2, Silas Koscho, WR/DB, 5-11/180, Jr.

3, Gabe Dunlap, QB/DB, 6-1/170, Sr.

4, Chase Vecchio, WR/DB, 5-11/180, Jr.

5, Cade Yacamelli, WR/DB, 5-10/170, So.

6, Mason Frye, WR/DB, 5-10/180, Jr.

7, Dom Cuda, HB/LB, 5-10/175, Sr.

8, Carter Green, QB/DB, 5-10/170, So.

9, Ian Demeri, RB/LB, 5-9/185, So.

10, Caleb Lisbon, RB/DB, 6-0/210, Sr.

11, Brad Ford, RB/DB, 6-1/185, Jr.

12, Ethan Carr, QB/LB, 6-3/195, Jr.

13, Tristan Geary, QB/DB, 5-10/165, So.

14, Noah Allen, WR/DB, 6-3/190, Sr.

15, Chris Popovich, WR/DB, 5-11/175, Jr.

16, Ryan Bachar, HB/LB, 5-9/170, So.

17, Tyler Sandor, QB/LB, 5-10/165, Jr.

18, Cole Darragh, HB/LB, 6-0/190, Jr.

19, Jack Jollie, HB/LB, 5-10/180, So.

20, Ben Karazsia, RB/LB, 5-6/175, Jr.

21, Sam Fanelli, RB/LB, 5-9/200, Sr.

22, Peyton Kelly, TE/DL, 5-11/260, Sr.

23, Chase Burk, HB/LB, 5-9/190, Sr.

24, Lucas Stotler, WR/DB, 6-2/165, Jr.

25, Tony Zona, WR/DB, 6-0/175, Sr.

26, Nate Frye, RB/DB, 5-10/180, Jr.

27, Thomas Wilkie, HB/LB, 5-9/175, Jr.

28, Cole Mains, WR/DB, 5-9/165, Jr.

29, Dheaven McClay, TE/LB, 6-1/190, Sr.

30, Trevor Wilson, K/P, 5-11/155, Jr.

31, Daniel Inglese, WR/DB, 6-2/180, Sr.

32, Mason Cenci, TE/LB, 5-11/205, Jr.

33, Michael Frawley, WR/DB, 5-9/165, So.

34, George Mochan, WR/DB, 5-9/165, Jr.

35, Seth Dunlap, WR/DB, 5-9/165, So.

36, Liam Hileman, WR/DB, 5-11/170, So.

37, Jake Gavatoria, WR/DB, 6-0/175, Jr.

38, Eli Brancho, WR/DB, 6-1/175, Sr.

39, JT Guy, TE/LB, 5-10/180, So.

40, Zachary Skalka, RB/LB, 5-9/160, So.

41, Dylan Schickel, WR/DB, 5-11/170, Jr.

42, Austin Lankey, TE/DL, 6-3/245, Jr.

44, Logan Casper, TE/LB, 5-10/200, Sr.

45, Nathan Wardlow, HB/LB, 5-9/175, Jr.

46, Dallas Streets, TE/LB, 6-1/210, Jr.

47, AJ Visco, K/P, 5-9/155, So.

50, Lorenzo Montalto, OL/DL, 5-10/235, So.

51, Derek Sutherland, OL/DL, 6-2/255, Sr.

52, JR Chick, OL/DL, 5-10/220, Sr.

53, Gavin Phillians, OL/DL, 6-0/215, Jr.

55, Dylan Schmidt, OL/DL, 6-0/245, Sr.

56, Garrett Moorhead, OL/DL, 5-11/245, So.

57, Anthony Youngo, OL/DL, 5-11/250, Sr.

58, Aidan McDonough, OL/DL, 6-2/210, Jr.

59, Declan Ochendowski, OL/DL, 6-3/225, So.

60, Luke Jollie, OL/DL, 6-4/250, So.

61, Tanner Hetherington, OL/DL, 5-11/250, Jr.

62, Tannor Eikey, OL/DL, 5-11/245, Jr.

63, Joey Spadaro, OL/DL, 5-10/225, Jr.

64, Sam Hysong, OL/DL, 5-10/205, So.

65, Josh Cheplick, OL/DL, 6-1/275, Sr.

66, Austin Varner, OL/DL, 6-2/220, Jr.

70, Lucas McDonnell, OL/DL, 5-10/205, So.

71, Scott Coy, OL/DL, 5-11/220, So.

72, John Harris, OL/DL, 6-1/250, Sr.

73, Michael Ritter, OL/DL, 6-3/280, Sr.

74, Khristian Miller, OL/DL, 5-11/215, Jr.

75, Isaac Cartwright, OL/DL, 5-10/280, So.

76, Rob Bartrum, OL/DL, 6-5/285, Jr.

77, Zachary Fordyce, OL/DL, 5-9/210, So.

78, Garrett Mattes, OL/DL, 5-10/190, So.

79, Niko Payne, OL/DL, 6-1/295, Sr.

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

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