Quaker Valley football builds on positive strides taken during 2021 season

Sunday, November 14, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Quaker Valley’s football team finished fifth in the rugged Class 3A Northern Six Conference this season, behind Central Valley (5-0), Avonworth (4-1), Keystone Oaks (3-2) and Ambridge (2-3).

The Quakers played 10 games, finished 2-8 overall and 1-4 in the conference, and allowed 40 or more points five times. They did, nonetheless, snap a 10-game losing streak this season.

“This team played with great effort and attitude all year long,” coach Ron Balog said, “and was extremely resilient in the face of adversity many, many times. We made positive strides every week even if the scoreboard said differently. We had valuable snaps and reps for many football players.”

According to QV’s fourth-year coach, the Quakers could be described as quick and athletic. Their aim this season was to utilize their speed and to be technically sound.

Balog knows his team needs to improve on both sides of the ball in 2022. The Quakers were outscored 207-69 in conference play, and 378-108 on the season.

“We don’t talk about wins and losses. We talk about the process, and a byproduct of the process can be wins,” Balog said. “I think you always want to win more games, no doubt. We thought we had a great opportunity coming into the Ambridge game, but after rallying from 21-0, injuries to key personnel was too big of a hill to climb.”

A strength next year should be QV’s line play, always an important facet behind a team’s success. More than half of the 11 returning starters in 2022 will be linemen.

“We will have some experienced juniors and seniors,” Balog said. “I expect the leadership to be good from that group. The offensive and defensive lines made great strides under coach Jason Cappa this year. I’m excited to see their step to the next level in 2022. The team needs to get bigger, faster and stronger, and that starts with our offseason program and coach Derek Clark.

“We need numbers participating in the offseason program. Last year, we had a core group of 12 or 13, and it showed that their offseason paid off. We need to get 20-plus there from December through the start of heat acclimation. If we continue to follow through the offseason with great effort and attitude, and buy into the process, 2022 will be an exciting year for Quaker football.”

Another area of the team that offers hope for the future is a strong freshman class.

“In my four years at Quaker Valley, this was my largest freshman class,” Balog said. “There are a lot of good football players in this group (of nine). Jack Diemert (LB/RB) and Davin Gartley (CB/WR) had terrific seasons and started nine games a piece.

“Dominic Cox-Giles (OLB/TE), Thomas Debelak (CB/WR), Sebastian Safran (OL/DL) and Marcus Richey (QB/OLB) all started games and played well. Nico Cardinale (DB/WR), Lance Burns (RB/LB) and Ty Kretzler (OL/DL) took valuable snaps, as well. The sky’s the limit for this group as a whole, but they must put in the time in the offseason.”

Senior RB/WR/DB Patrick Cutchember, a four-year starter and the defending 189-pound WPIAL wrestling champion, led QV in rushing with 645 yards and five touchdowns on 131 carries. He also led the team in scoring with seven TDs, one two-point conversion and, on defense, one safety, totaling 46 points.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Cutchember, a three-sport standout (football, wrestling, lacrosse), ran behind an offensive line that included senior tackle Tommaso Floro, junior tackle Abe Djedid, sophomore guard Ethan Pesce, senior guard Amir McCracken and sophomore center Zach Djedid.

QV’s senior quarterback Connery Bulger, nephew of former St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, passed for 463 yards and seven scores this fall.

Bulger’s favorite targets were junior WR Jakub Pickett, who had 17 receptions for 256 yards and four touchdowns, senior WR Nathan Dicks (13-101, 2 TDs) and Cutchember (13-171, 1 TDs). Pickett averaged 15.1 yards per reception.

Defensively, Cutchember, Diemert, Floro, Pesce, Dicks, Pickett and Djedid were team leaders in tackles.

Floro, Pickett and Cutchember ended up in double figures in the tackles-for-loss category. Floro also registered 10 sacks and Diemert had three fumble recoveries.

“Our offense and defense have to improve equally next season,” Balog said. “Our offensive and defensive lines will be better.”


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