Springdale hopes to start strong against rival

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Saturday, September 5, 2020 | 11:01 PM


The last shall be first as Springdale prepares for what it expects to be a season unlike any other.

When the WPIAL revamped schedules because of the coronavirus pandemic, Riverview, the Dynamos’ chief Class A Eastern Conference rival, was moved from the regular-season finale to Sept. 11, the new season-opening date.

“Obviously, whenever we play them, it’s going to be a big game,” said Springdale coach Seth Napierkowski, who guided his team to a 6-4 record last year.

“It’s probably fitting in a crazy year like this we would play Riverview to open the season instead of at the end. I’m excited for it, and I know the kids will be pumped up. They have a new coach over there, and I know they’re going to want to make his mark right away against their biggest rival. It should be a pretty intense game. ”

Other changes saw the elimination of Springdale’s Week Zero game against Deer Lakes.

“It is what it is, and I am happy they at least came to some resolution that allows us to have football this fall,” Napierkowski said. “Despite the layoff in the spring and summer, the guys have been working really hard to get ready for the season. When we resumed workouts (in July), they came prepared mentally and physically as possible. They did a good job on their own with more limited resources.

“We’ve put in a couple of new things on both sides of the ball, and they’re picking it up. That’s a testament to their willingness to learn and the fact that a lot of these guys are going to be two- and three-year starters.”

The core of returning talent, senior quarterback/wide receiver/defensive back Dmitri Fritch said, is ready to lead the team to a playoff spot out of an always-tough conference that also includes Bishop Canevin, Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, Imani Christian, Jeannette and Leechburg.

“We’ve all been working hard on the field and in the weight room, and we’re just ready to play,” Fritch said. “Coach (Napierkowski) told us to control what we can control.”

Junior quarterback Legend Ausk is hoping for redemption after a collarbone injury cost him the majority of his 2019 season.

“No one ever wants to get injured and miss time, but I think Legend was able to sit back and see the game from a different perspective and learn some things,” Napierkowski said. “He came back ready to learn and get better.”

Napierkowski said Fritch and senior Cavin Kinder did a good job stepping in under center last year under the circumstances, and they could see time at quarterback in a few packages.

“They both bring a different element and are pretty versatile,” Napierkowski said. “You’ll see Cavin in the backfield and also the slot. Fritch will be at receiver and also at slot with the hopes of taking advantage of some matchups.”

Napierkowski said juniors John Utiss (slot/linebacker/safety) and Logan Dexter (wide receiver/safety) also return to increased leadership roles.

The offensive line has experience with senior Dakota Boyce (guard) and juniors Gio Savko (center) and Ethan Zahner (guard). Junior Gage Howard (guard/tackle) and sophomore Nathan Folmer (tackle) also are expected to play a role in the trenches.

Howard and junior linebacker Ashton Krebs were among the team leaders last year in tackles with 42 and 47, respectively. Howard added 3½ sacks and recovered three fumbles.

Kindler, from his linebacker spot, led the Dynamos in tackles (84) and added three sacks and an interception. Fritch picked off four passes and added 38 tackles.

“I love the chemistry on this team,” Fritch said. “We all like to joke around, but when it comes down to practice or a game, we’re serious about getting the job done.”

Savko and junior Andrew Harmon also will battle for time at linebacker.

Napierkowski said he’s excited to have lineman Ashon Tyree back in the fold after not playing the past two years.

“He played his freshman year and then had some injuries,” Napierkowski said. “By the end of the year, he started at defensive tackle in the playoff game against OLSH. I think he can be a real difference maker for us.”

Schedule

Coach: Seth Napierkowski

2019 record: 6-4, 2-4 in Class A Eastern Conference

All-time record: 413-466-30

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, Riverview*, 7

9.19, at Bishop Canevin*#, 7

9.25, Leechburg*, 7

10.2, at Greensburg C.C.*, 7

10.9, Jeannette*, 7

10.16, Imani Christian*, 7

10.23, at Clairton*, 7

*Class A Eastern Conference game

#At Dormont Stadium

Statistical leaders

Passing: Dmitri Fritch

30-67, 433 yards, 7 TDs

Receiving: John Utiss

5-136 yards, 1 TD

Rushing: Christian Vokes*

140-1,106 yards, 19 TDs

*Graduated

Fast facts

• Springdale has won eight of the past 10 meetings with rival Riverview including last year by a 33-0 score.

• Napierkowski is 13-18 over his first three seasons as head coach of the Dynamos.

• Springdale averaged 27.7 points overall last season and tallied 36.7 per contest in its six victories.

• Kinder and Fritch complemented graduate Christian Vokes in the running game last year with a combined 956 yards and four touchdowns

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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