Underclassmen growing into contributors for Ringgold

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Sunday, August 23, 2020 | 6:01 AM


It’s been a rough few seasons for the Ringgold football program — winless in 2018 and two wins, one by forfeit, in 2019.

But second-year coach and Ringgold alumnus Darwin Manges is starting to see some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

“It’s encouraging because now we have players ready to step up and play football at a varsity level,” Manges said. “We were forced to use a lot of underclassmen the past two seasons and were not ready. Now we have players who know what is expected. We haven’t stopped working since the end of last season.”

The only time workouts were interrupted was in the spring because of the covid-19 pandemic.

Since the return in the summer, Manges said 40 or more players have shown up for workouts.

Manges is a 1985 graduate of Ringgold and a member of the 1982 WPIAL championship team. He graduated from Edinboro and coached in Delaware, where he won a state title.

Ringgold returns seven players on offense and seven on defense.

The offense line is nearly intact. Back is senior center Julien Altamare, junior guards Jacob Meyer and Jacob Frahlich and junior tackle Dante Campagni. Sophomore Logan Simko is expected to be the new left tackle.

Junior Donte Kinds returns at running back and John Polefko is back at fullback. Deondra Dotson will also run the football.

Seniors Jacob Walsh and Wyatt Nicklow will battle for the quarterback job, and junior slot back Braydon Fine could also line up behind center. Manges runs a Wing-T offense, but calls it his Southwestern Pennsylvania version.

Senior Logan Wellington is slotted at tight end with Dotson, Fine and senior Tanner Smith at receiver.

Ringgold’s offense only scored four touchdowns in 2018 and more than doubled that count in 2019.

Senior kicker Clayton Rosensteel, who Manges said is receiving Division I offers, ended the school’s 18-game losing streak by booting a game-winning field goal to beat Beaver, 16-13.

Manges likes athletes on defense, so he’s gone to a 3-5-3 look that West Virginia used when Jeff Casteel was the defensive coordinator.

Altamare is the nose tackle while Frahlich and sophomore Jacob Pehowic are the ends. Sophomore Cameron Smith is expected to spell Altamare.

Polefko, junior Landon Oslowski and sophomore Kevin Willis are the inside linebackers, while Fine returns on the outside.

Lining up in the secondary are Kinds at safety and junior Jacob Walsh and Marlos Johnson at cornerback.

“Things are starting to click for the players,” Manges said. “They understand the schemes we’re using. They’re ready to take it to the next level. The team is coming together.”

Ringgold’s conference — the Class 4A Big Eight — got a lot tougher with the addition of McKeesport to join powers Thomas Jefferson and Belle Vernon. West Mifflin, Laurel Highlands, Uniontown and Trinity are the other teams in the conference, though Uniontown has opted not to play football this fall.

“It’s a strong conference,” Manges said. “But it’s a conference that will make us better. We want to be able to compete at the level of Thomas Jefferson, Belle Vernon and McKeesport.”

Schedule

Coach: Darwin Manges

2019 record: 208, 1-6 in Class 4A Big Eight Conference

All-time record: 245-260-12

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, at Trinity*, 7

9.18, at Laurel Highlands*, 7

9.25, Uniontown, 7

10.2, McKeesport*, 7

10.9, at Belle Vernon*, 7

10.16, Thomas Jefferson*, 7

10.23, West Mifflin*, 7

*Class 4A Big Eight Conference game

Fast facts

• Ringgold is a merger of Donora and Monongahela in 1969.

• The most famous football player to play at Ringgold was NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana.

• Former Minnesota Vikings kicker Fred Cox played at Monongahela.

• Donora won the WPIAL title three times.

• The last time Ringgold played in the WPIAL playoffs was in 2016. The Rams defeated Mars, 42-31, but fell to New Castle, 38-17, in the Class 4A semifinals.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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