South Fayette brings cutting-edge offense into Class 5A competition

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Thursday, August 27, 2020 | 11:30 PM


South Fayette quarterback Naman Alemada was running the New England Patriots offense at times last season, with plays designed for small-but-quick receivers.

Charley Rossi, Joey Audia and Ryan McGuire were the WPIAL’s version of Julian Edelman and Co. But this year, offensive coordinator Ben Maracek borrowed ideas from another championship team.

“He’s put in a bunch of new plays, formations and concepts based off Joe Burrow and LSU’s offense,” said Alemada, a senior who threw for 3,004 yards and 34 touchdowns last season.

“There are a couple little tweaks,” coach Joe Rossi said. “It’s always the hot trends. Our offense is pretty much the same, but (Maracek) does a nice job utilizing our Smurfs.”

South Fayette’s receivers aren’t giants — McGuire is the tallest at 6-foot-1 — but combined they put up big numbers. Audia had 57 receptions for 736 yards, Rossi caught 53 passes for 816 yards and McGuire had 34 for 778. They caught 24 touchdowns combined.

All three have Division I offers.

“Charley, Joey and Ryan are great receivers,” Alemada said. “They’d be No. 1 receivers anywhere else, but they know they’re not going to get the ball every play. They’re unselfish.

“There are some games where Charley is going to get 20 passes and some games where Joey is going to get 10. Yeah, we have the athletes, but everyone is willing to work for it.”

South Fayette went 10-2 last season and reached the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals. This year, they make the jump to 5A, where the Lions should remain competitors behind their strong senior class.

Along with its quarterback and top three receivers, South Fayette also brings back three starting offensive linemen and a first-year starter who’s drawing Division I offers.

Ryan O’Hair’s size earned him offers from Butler and Valparaiso, but the 6-8, 290-pound two-way tackle could be a difference maker on the field this season.

“He grew up over a year,” Joe Rossi said. “Last year he was like a baby deer. Now, he looks really good. He’s a kid that could blow up.”

South Fayette has owned one of the WPIAL’s top passing offenses with Rossi as coach. Alemada had to battle for the quarterback job last season, but enters this year as the starter.

The 6-4 senior completed 73% of his passes last season (205 of 282).

“You can just tell his comfort level back there,” Rossi said. “The game just slows down after you get a year of experience under your belt. For him, you can tell it’s a little slower. But it’ll be a little faster by moving up to 5A. You’re going to see an increase in talent.”

It helps having three D1 receivers.

Charley Rossi (5-8, 165 pounds) has college offers from Dayton, Princeton, Sacred Heart and Valparaiso. Audia (5-9, 165) announced his first offer Aug. 20 from St. Thomas. McGuire (6-1, 175) added Butler in July.

Each summer, the team typically travels out of state for 7-on-7 camps at Ohio State and elsewhere, but that wasn’t an option this year during the pandemic. But with so many starters coming back, South Fayette can probably handle that inactivity better than most.

“We lost a little bit of chemistry,” Alemada said, “but we were able to get back on the same page pretty quickly by just throwing on our own and now at camp. I think that experience will be a major factor.”

Schedule

Coach: Joe Rossi

2019 record: 10-2, 7-0 in Class 4A Northwest Eight Conference

All-time record: 493-374-39

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, at Dover, Ohio, 7

9.18, at Chartiers Valley, 7

9.25, at Peters Township*, 7

10.2, Moon*, 7

10.9, at Bethel Park*, 7

10.16, West Allegheny*, 7

10.23, Upper St. Clair*, 7

*Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Naman Alemada

205-282, 3,004 yards, 34 TDs

Rushing: Andrew Franklin*

129-914, 15 TDs

Receiving: Joey Audia

57-736, 8 TDs

Fast facts

• Three years in a row, South Fayette had a different quarterback throw for more than 2,000 yards. Alameda had 3,004 in 2019, Joey Diven had 3,211 in 2018 and Drew Saxton had 2,749 in 2017.

• The Lions averaged 35.9 point per game last season, sixth-best in the WPIAL.

• The football team could add a fourth classification to its trophy case this season. South Fayette already owns WPIAL titles in Class A, 2A and 4A.

• South Fayette got an early look at one of its new conference rivals. The Lions played Upper St. Clair in a nonconference matchup in both 2018 and ’19. USC won 34-33 and 27-13.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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