Veteran players hope to lead Apollo-Ridge back to playoffs

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Monday, August 19, 2019 | 10:50 AM


The Apollo-Ridge football team, youthful over the past couple of seasons, returns experience at several key positions this fall, and coach John Skiba said the Vikings are pointing in the right direction for a return to the WPIAL playoffs.

However, an improvement on last year’s 2-8 record, he added, will hinge on whether those players will be able to stay on the field in consistent fashion.

“Just like every year, we have to stay healthy, especially up front,” said Skiba, who saw his squad go 1-5 and place sixth in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference.

“We have good depth at the skill positions. The line will be key to what we are able to do offensively.”

Skiba said he is excited to be able to turn to several experienced and athletic players up front.

Senior Robert Harkleroad, juniors Lucas Yard and Jake Durianchik and sophomores Greg Klingensmith and Bradey Schrock will lead those charged with opening holes in the run game and protecting in the pass game.

Juniors Jake Fello and Klay Fitzroy split time at quarterback last season. Fello threw for 664 yards and eight touchdowns, and Fitzroy accounted for 662 yards and five scores.

Skiba said the one who isn’t under center will be at wide receiver.

“Jake looks to be the front-runner. He has a lot of experience back there,” Skiba said. “He’s had a great summer throwing the ball and not turning the ball over in our seven-on-sevens. Klay is a different type where he’s more of a runner who will get you on the perimeter with his legs and athletic ability.”

Fitzroy led the team with five receiving scores in 2018.

“It doesn’t matter where I line up or how many touches I get,” Fitzroy said. “As long as we’re winning games and scoring touchdowns, that’s really all that matters. I don’t care about the stats.”

Junior Keighton Reese returns as a main target in the passing game. He caught 24 passes for 311 yards and two scores last year.

“I can plug Keighton in anywhere, and he can figure it out and get it done,” Skiba said.

Junior Adam Troutman will be in the mix at receiver, Skiba said.

“It will be a lot of fun to see what we can do in this offense,” Skiba said.

Bruising running back/linebacker Logan Harmon is healthy after missing four games last year with a concussion.

“He is the biggest I’ve ever seen him,” Skiba said. “He’s about 215, and he’s running hard. He brings such physicality to the field. There was a big difference on both sides of the ball when he wasn’t in there.”

Despite the time missed, he still led the team in rushing with 400 yards and six scores.

“It was pretty frustrating when I wasn’t able to be out there with my teammates,” Harmon said. “But I was able to come back for the last two games and finish strong. I feel really good right now, and I am ready to go.”

Junior Dom Reiter, Skiba said, will be an important utility player. He will play some fullback and line up at linebacker and strong safety on defense.

Skiba said this season is no different with a number of players seldom coming off the field.

“We better be in shape and ready to go. A lot of guys will play a lot of football,” he said.

Four of the team’s top five tacklers last year were Reese, Harmon, Fitzroy and Fello.

“A lot of the same guys on offense are again going to play vital roles on defense,” Skiba said.

Several of the offensive linemen also will be in the defensive trenches in front of Harmon and Yard at inside linebacker.

Reese, Fitzroy and Fello form an experienced secondary. Junior Zach Hreha also returns.

Skiba said senior Brandon Kimmel is back after not playing last year and will add to the depth at one of the corner positions.

Apollo-Ridge opens its season Friday with a Week Zero game at rival Leechburg followed by its home opener Aug. 30 against Summit Academy.

Shady Side Academy, Steel Valley, Avonworth and East Allegheny were the playoff qualifiers from the conference last year.

Valley missed a playoff spot by one game.

“Avonworth seems like the team to beat in the conference,” Skiba said. “They brought a lot of kids back with a lot of experience. They have good numbers, a strong offensive line, and they have the skill weapons, too. It will be interesting from there. Every week will be a dogfight.”

Schedule

Coach: John Skiba

2018 record: 2-8, 1-5

All-time record: 211-271-9

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, at Leechburg, 7

8.30, Summit Academy*, 7

9.6, Carlynton, 7

9.13, at East Allegheny*, 7

9.20, at Avonworth*, 7

9.27, Shady Side Academy*, 7

10.4, at Valley*, 7

10.11, at Steel Valley*, 7

10.18, Freedom, 7

10.25, Charleroi, 7

*Class 2A Allegheny Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Jake Fello

49-100, 664 yards, 8 TDs

Receiving: Keighton Reese

24-311 yards, 2 TDs

Rushing: Logan Harmon

83-400 yards, 6 TDs

Aollo-Ridge roster

No., Name, Ht./Wt., Cl.

1, Jacob Fello, 6-1/190, Jr.

2, Dom Reiter, 5-11/180, Jr.

3, Colin Saxion, 5-1/115, Fr.

4, Evangeios Cicco, 5-5/125, So.

5, Adam Troutman, 6-2/195, Jr.

6, Gage Johnson, 6-1/175, Fr.

7, Cam Bush, 5-10/170, Sr.

8, Ashtin Krantz, 5-11/175, Jr.

9, Colton Neil, 5-11/160, So.

10, Klayton Fitzroy, 6-4/195, Jr.

12, Jacob Mull, 5-9/122, Fr.

17, Mike Fryer, 5-11/159, Fr.

20, Keighton Reese, 6-0/180, Jr.

21, Reed Veneziani, 5-5/152, Fr.

27, Evan Remaley, 5-11/150, So.

31, Nick Curci, 6-0/180, Fr.

32, Michael Grant, 5-1/168, Fr.

33, Keyvahn Mccray, 6-0/165, So.

35, Nick Cecchini, 5-7/145, So.

40, Matthew Clark, 5-6/145, So.

41, Landon Harmon, 5-8/188, Fr.

44, Logan Harmon, 5-9/206, Jr.

45, Austin Lookhart, 5-0/118, Fr.

50, Braden Astolos, 6-0/205, Sr.

51, Jacob Duriancik, 6-2/210, Jr.

53, Tyler Jaworsky, 5-8/225, Fr.

54, Rob Harkleroad, 6-0/210, Sr.

55, Lucas Yard, 5-11/195, Jr.

56, Cole Sells, 5-11/290, Jr.

57, Brady Schrock, 6-0/240, So.

58, Brady Reilly, 5-11/205, Sr.

59, Greg Klingensmith, 6-5/225, So.

62, Andrew Booth, 5-10/230, So.

71, Jake Hild, 5-11/250, Sr.

72, Connor Weigand, 5-11/200, Fr.

81, Cooper Gourley, 5-8/185, Fr.

86, Zach Hreha, 5-11/175, Jr.

88, Brandon Kimmel, 5-9/145, Sr.

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

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