Shaler Area looking to build on return to playoffs
Friday, August 16, 2019 | 11:06 AM
Ending a long playoff drought last season allowed the Shaler Area football team to shed its label as perennial also-rans.
But the Titans also are focused on making sure their surprise run to the Class 5A playoffs isn’t a case of being one-year wonders. How Shaler can make the transition to annual contenders will depend on the incoming athletes to fill key roles.
Running back Jake Miller will be challenged to help fill the void left by Joey Kremer, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.
“My goal on offense is to put points on the board and make sure we win the game,” said Miller, who also will play linebacker.
Carrying the Titans offense won’t be a task reserved for Miller when the Titans host New Castle to open the season Aug. 23 at Titans Stadium.
Shaler returns senior quarterback Darin Mizgorski, who was a 1,000-yard passer. Linemen Austin McKaveney and Nevin Summerfield will play big roles, and wide receivers Joe Impavido and Shayn Skelley will provide targets for Mizgorski.
“When we sat down and looked at everything, we had a 50-50 run-to-pass ratio,” Titans coach Jim Ryan said. “We always want to run the ball first, and that’s the first priority. We want to see how the season unfolds and then utilize our personnel to give us the best advantage.”
In the Northern Conference, Penn Hills, the returning WPIAL and PIAA champion, will be the favorite. Beyond that, positioning in the rest of the conference might be up for grabs.
Shaler finished 4-7 overall and 3-4 in conference play last season, grabbing a playoff spot with a fourth-place finish. Ryan said the Titans will feel more comfortable in their second season in Class 5A.
“We have an idea of who we are facing and what they do,” he said. “We have a better idea about those programs, who they are and how their coaches run things. We will have certain personnel packages for different teams.”
Returning to the playoffs last year helped raise Shaler’s collective morale. The Titans saw increased numbers with 51 players coming out for the team.
Now, Shaler wants to make sure everyone coming in will help sustain the program’s momentum.
“That’s our main goal is to go out for the section this year and carry on the tradition we started last year,” Miller said. “We want to keep passing it along.”
Coach: Jim Ryan
2018 record: 4-7, 3-4
All-time record: 357-417-30
Date, Opponent, Time
8.23, New Castle, 7
8.30, Kiski Area*, 7
9.6, at Hampton*, 7
9.13, Bethel Park, 7
9.21, Franklin Regional, 1
9.27, at Mars*, 7
10.4, Armstrong*, 7
10.11, Penn Hills*, 7
10.18, at North Hills*, 7:30
10.25, at Fox Chapel*, 7
*Class 5A Northern Conference game
Passing: Darin Mizgorski
106-218, 1,623 yards, 13 TDs
Receiving: Brennan Fugh*
47-782 yards, 3 TDs
Rushing: Joey Kremer*
200-1,035 yards, 10 TDs