Returning skill players provide balance for New Brighton
By: Bill Hartlep
Thursday, August 16, 2018 | 10:03 PM
With experienced and talented players returning at all the skill positions, New Brighton coach Joe Greco has high expectations for the 2018 season.
Led by junior quarterback Jackson Hall, senior running back Ashton Fath, senior receiver Caleb Shuler and junior wideout Jacob Francona, the Lions will look to bounce back from a 2-8 season, including an 0-7 mark in the Class 2A Midwestern Conference.
“It’s nice to have your quarterback, two leading receivers and your leading rusher back,” Greco said. “If we can get it done up front, we should be OK.”
Hall enters his third season under center after completing 53 percent of his passes for 1,410 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
“He did some good things last year. He’s really matured,” Greco said of Hall. “We’re looking for him to distribute the ball, make good decisions and be able to do a little more running the ball than he has in the past.”
Though Deshawn Clark graduated, Shuler and Francona return as Hall’s top targets. They combined for 49 catches and 737 yards last season. Francona had six touchdowns, while Shuler added five.
“Both are tall and rangy; both had good years last year,” Greco said. “They’re both stronger, faster.”
Fath averaged 4.3 yards per carry last season en route to 319 rushing yards and four scores. He will be the team’s feature back this year.
“Our passing attack is going to be nice, but we’re going to be a balanced team,” Fath said.
Greco said the offensive line has some inexperience but will be among the deepest in his 21-year tenure.
Junior Dylan Hupp, a third-year starter, will anchor the defensive line, and junior Rocco Beightey returns to lead the linebacker unit.
The Lions will again compete in the Midwestern Conference, which will have a slightly different look this season with the addition of Ellwood City, Shenango and Western Beaver.
“It’s different. I think it’s wide open this year,” Greco said. “There’s some teams coming back that were good last year. There are some teams that were young last year and made some good progress.”
After a winless run in conference play, the Lions are aiming to get off to a good start against Mohawk in Week 1.
“I expect a lot of tough games,” Shuler said, “but I think we can pull through.”
Coach: Joe Greco
2017 record: 2-8, 0-7
All-time record: 540-466-59
Date, Opponent, Time
8.24, at Rochester, 7:30 p.m.
8.31, Mohawk*, 7 p.m.
9.7, Ellwood City*, 7 p.m.
9.14, at Avonworth, 7 p.m.
9.21, Seton LaSalle, 7 p.m.
9.28, at Neshannock*, 7 p.m.
10.5, Freedom*, 7 p.m.
10.12, Western Beaver*, 7 p.m.
10.19, at Shenango*, 7 p.m.
10.26, at Riverside*, 7 p.m.
*Class 2A Midwestern Conference game
Passing: Jackson Hall
113-214, 1,410 yards, 9 TDs
Rushing: Ashton Fath
75-319 yards, 4 TDs
Receiving; Caleb Shuler
27-426 yards, 5 TDs
Bill Hartlep is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at email@example.com or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.
Tags: New Brighton