With less star power, more balance, Serra Catholic in position to contend again

Thursday, August 24, 2023 | 6:01 AM

Two seasons removed from winning a WPIAL championship, Serra Catholic will be leaning on its returning experience and strong line play to once again soar to those heights.

There are obvious concerns because dynamic skill players like quarterback Elijah Ward and wide receiver Amire Spencer graduated, but coach Jose Regus feels their replacements can be found on the roster.

After starring in a two-quarterback system alongside Ward last season, Quadir Stribling will be handed the keys to the offense. The junior has impressive stats, and Regus said he has grown to about 6-foot-2.

“Quadir comes in with a lot of experience,” Regus said. “He’s played and shared reps for two years, and he already had a 1,500-yard season sharing reps. We look at him just to take the helm and go ahead and move us forward. He’s grown into the position, he has a very strong arm, and he puts the ball where it needs to be.”

While Stribling will serve as the clear replacement at quarterback, star receiver Spencer’s successor is a bit more open-ended.

“That’s an open book right now, because we’ve got four or five guys all in there,” Regus said. “We might not have one Amire Spencer, but we’ve got four or five guys that can contribute the same speed and hands.

“They’re young, and it’s gonna be tough, but we’ve got guys. I don’t think people know what we’ve got, but I know we’ve got some hidden gems.”

Zion Ward and Mason Jones will battle for a spot in the backfield, and the receiver room includes De’reon Washington, Jaden Banks, Jesere Young, Chris Warren and Jerry Davis.

The offensive line will be anchored by Drew Hairston, Jadell Minniefield and Kai’Ree Chavez-Harrington, linebackers will include Mason Jones, Brady Vrcic, Robinson Rea, and the Eagles’ defensive line includes Hairston at end, Minniefield, Chavez-Harrington and Marquis Holt.

“We have a lot of confidence in our offensive and defensive line,” Regus said. “Those guys are gonna be rotators and go in and out, but we have a lot of confidence. Years before, our skill guys really stood out more, but our line is really looking good and taking charge. I think our line is gonna be our strongest asset.”

The Eagles have to replace graduation losses such as John Payne Jr., Daiquan Chatfield, Antoine Smith and Maddox Nabors among others.

Serra will open the season Friday at North Catholic before hosting Seton LaSalle and traveling to Washington, which ended the Eagles’ season last year in a playoff blowout.

“We’re very excited to be back on the field,” Regus said. “We have a lot of confidence in this team. It’s a different team than we’ve had in the past where one or two guys really stood out. I think we’ve got a group of individuals that are going to work together and contribute. There’s a lot of contributions from each guy. We’re not locked into one or two guys.”

The rest of the way will be Class 2A Allegheny Conference play as Serra takes on Burrell, Imani Christian, Derry, Yough, Ligonier Valley, Apollo-Ridge and Steel Valley.

For the Eagles to improve from last season, they’ll have to deliver at a consistently high level.

“Guys gotta perform,” Regus said. “We need guys to come out and do their thing. They’ve all got experience, they’ve all got playing time, but now it’s their time to shine.”

One wild card is senior Isiah Petty, whom Regus is clearly excited about. The coach says the basketball and baseball standout looks strong in camp.

“He’s showing a lot right now,” Regus said. “He’s got a nice little wiggle to him. He looks like he’s gonna play wide receiver, (defensive) back and a little bit of running back. That’s what I tell him, ‘You got a nice little wiggle, Petty!’”

Petty is just one piece of the puzzle for Serra to get back to earning WPIAL gold. Stribling will presumably run the squad to ensure that things go as well as they can this season.

“We want to come out and compete every game,” Regus said. “We want production from everybody. We want everybody to shine when it’s their time.”

Serra Catholic

Coach: Jose Regus

2022 record: 7-4, 5-2 in Class 2A Allegheny Conference

All-time record: 241-338-6


Date, Opponent, Time

8.25 at North Catholic, 7

9.1 Seton LaSalle, 7

9.8 at Washington, 7

9.15 at Burrell*, 7

9.22 Imani Christian*, 7

9.29 at Derry*, 7

10.6 at Yough*, 7

10.13 Ligonier Valley*, 7

10.20 Apollo-Ridge*, 7

10.27 at Steel Valley*, 7

*Conference game


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