Upper St. Clair makes short work of North Hills

Friday, September 2, 2022 | 11:59 PM

North Hills coach Pat Carey knew his team was in for a challenge against a big, athletic and, perhaps most importantly, experienced Upper St. Clair team.

His expectations turned into a cruel reality Friday.

The Panthers (2-0) stymied North Hills for nearly the entire night, running away with a 37-7 nonconference win at Martorelli Stadium.

“We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy sledding,” Carey said. “It wasn’t. They were dominant.”

Indeed they were. Upper St. Clair allowed 13 rushing yards and held the Indians (0-2) to 97 yards of total offense.

“Our guys did a really good job smothering them, and not letting them out of their own end,” Panthers coach Mike Junko said. “And then we got a lot of good field position on offense. That formula was a good one for us tonight.”

Jamaal Brown rushed for 132 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown on the Panthers’ second series. He has rushed for 284 yards in the season’s first two weeks.

“The line, they just blocked really well tonight,” Brown said. “I hit the holes, and we were rolling. They couldn’t stop us, whether it was a five-yard gain or big, chunk yardage. We just kept pounding them.”

The Indians managed one first down 49 yards of offense in the first half, with 48 coming on one play: a third-down pass from John Green to Mike Hoskey.

But North Hills, which played without injured starting center Logan Greer, fumbled the snap on the very next play, and the Panthers recovered, thwarting any momentum the Indians may have gained from the big play.

“It’s tough,” Carey said. “We had some injuries take place over the last week and we had a new player (at center) who really fought and battled. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that snap back, and that turnover kind of took the wind out of our sails. But it was difficult all night.”

Upper St. Clair sophomore Julian Dahlem passed for 57 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 84 yards, including a 10-yard score that pushed the Panthers’ lead to 17-0 at halftime.

This came after Dahlem entered the game as the team’s backup quarterback and took over after an opening series that failed to net points behind starter Brady Erdos.

“If you take us down and score, that’s the goal,” Junko said. “Julian did a nice job tonight of taking us down the field and putting points on the board. I’m really happy with his progress.”

After halftime, Dahlem connected with Aidan Besselman for a 6-yard touchdown and with Van Hellman for a 7-yarder, extending the Panthers’ lead to 31-0.

North Hills got on the board late with a 2-yard touchdown run by Julius Green, but Upper St. Clair responded with a highlight-reel 20-yard run by Mason Chambers.

“They’re coached up,” Carey said. “They’re big. They’re athletic. And they’re going to give people a lot of problems this year.”

The Indians, who lost to Bethel Park, 22-10, in Week 0, won’t get any reprieve next week with unbeaten Gateway set to visit Martorelli Stadium.

“They’re a tough team to line up against when you’re 0-2 and played like we did this week,” Carey said. “But we have resilient kids. Our coaches will coach them up, and we’ll give them our best.”

Upper St. Clair, meanwhile, has stacked impressive, lopsided road wins to begin the year, besting Norwin, 42-6, in their opener.

“Early in the season, you’re trying to figure out who you have and what you can do,” Junko said. “I think we’re starting to answer those questions and starting to get confident in some of the things we’re doing on both sides of the ball.”

Tags: ,

More High School Football

PIAA football semifinal previews for Dec. 1-2, 2023
Checking in on past winners of the Bill Fralic Memorial Award
Through the years: Aspinwall claimed 1943 Class B championship
Unheralded QB runs his family’s business — Aliquippa’s offense — with championship efficiency
Trib 10: WPIAL champs chasing state gold occupy top 6 spots in power rankings