Quaker Valley out to snap skid with experienced roster

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Saturday, August 14, 2021 | 6:01 AM


Quaker Valley went through the growing pains of being extremely young last year, and combined with a covid-19 situation at the school that forced a cancellation of the final two games, it made for a difficult season.

The Quakers went winless, but on the other side of it, they return nine players with experience on both sides of the ball.

Quakers coach Ron Balog said his team doesn’t have a lot of size, but it has speed and experience at the skill positions and plans to use an aerial attack on offense.

“We are an athletic team that can run around the field and make plays,” said Balog, who’s entering his fourth season with the Quakers. “We’re not overly big, so one of the big keys to our success will be using our quickness and our speed and being technically sound to beat people. We’re not going to line up with you and knock you down. We don’t have that size. We’ll have the ball in the air more than you probably have ever seen at Quaker Valley, and we feel good about that.”

Connery Bulger, a senior, will be the Quakers quarterback. He is the nephew of former St. Louis Rams, West Virginia and Central Catholic quarterback Marc Bulger.

Bulger started the last two games last year prior to the season being ended abruptly.

“If we had those two games, he would’ve started them as well,” Balog said. “We were really excited about the way he played last year and how he’s come along through the summer. Having the normal summer work and the 7-on-7s has really helped him out tremendously.”

Bulger will have several weapons to choose from on each play.

Patrick Cutchember, defending 189-pound WPIAL wrestling champion, will play running back and wide receiver. Fellow wrestler Mason Diemert, who is 6-foot-6, will provide a huge target at wide receiver. Jakub Pickett is another wide receiver who Balog said grew over the summer.

Nate Dicks and Jamir Steffey will work at slot receiver. Steffey returned a pair of kicks for touchdowns last year.

The offensive line will be anchored by junior Abe Djedid.

“Our line was brutally young last year,” Balog said. “We’ll be a little older and more experienced, so we’re excited about that. Abe started at center for us as a sophomore last year, and he’s worked his tail off in the weight room all offseason. We’re excited to see what he’s going to do for us.”

Many of the Quakers will be two-way players. Steffey, Cutchember and Diemert will be in the secondary. Pickett will be at inside linebacker along with Gavin Eschenbaugh, and Dicks will be at outside linebacker. Djedid will play on the defensive line.

Quaker Valley is in the Northwestern Six Conference. The Quakers have five nonconference games to begin the season starting with a trip to Beaver for Week Zero on Aug. 27.

“That gives us lots of time to really find out who we are,” Balog said. “It really affords you to see what’s really going on. Hopefully we get through those games healthy when we launch into conference play.”

Quaker Valley

Coach: Ron Balog

2020 record: 0-5, 0-3 in Class 3A Northwestern Six Conference

All-time record: 239-353-14

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.27 at Beaver, 7:30

9.3 at New Castle, 7

9.10 Freedom, 7

9.17 at Brentwood, 7

9.24 Aliquippa, 7

10.1 at Central Valley*, 7

10.8 Hopewell*, 7

10.15 Keystone Oaks*, 7

10.22 at Ambridge*, 7

10.29 Avonworth*, 7

*Conference game

FAST FACTS

• Quaker Valley won its lone WPIAL and PIAA titles in 2017. Since then the Quakers have not won a playoff game.

• Patrick Cutchember was the fourth Quaker Valley wrestler to win WPIAL gold. He started one game at quarterback last year before moving to a receiver/running back role.

• The Quakers have perennial powers Aliquippa and Central Valley on the schedule back-to-back weeks for the fourth consecutive year. Aliquippa is a nonconference game this year.

• Along with Aliquippa, the rest of Quaker Valley’s nonconference slate features some heavy hitters. The Quakers travel to Brentwood, Beaver and New Castle and host Freedom.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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