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Written by: Phil Myers on Wednesday, August 24th, 2022
Of the teams in this conference, only Freeport sported a winning record last season. The Allegheny Six should be wide open with anyone of the teams being conference champ. And that will make this conference one of the most interesting and competitive in all of the WPIAL.
Deer Lakes –
Last year the Lancers finished 4-6 which is a negative, but they return 8 on offense and 7 on defense which is a positive. Coach Tim Burk is not only looking for these veterans to improve their game and be leaders, but he is looking for his team to be ready to go mentally every week. QB Derek Burk will call the signals for a third straight year. He threw for over 1,000 yards in 2021. His favorite receiver, Ryan Cochran returns too. Nick Rossi and Sawyer Hadlum will bolster the offensive line along with Kasey Bowser and Jaden Zier. On defense, the Lancers will have Nick Cristillo as the hammer at linebacker and Aiden Fletcher at cornerback. The line should be mostly the same guys on the offensive line. Deer Lakes plays a very tough non-conference schedule which might keep their 2022 record around .500 again.
East Allegheny –
Coach Dom Pecora has done well at E.A., getting his teams into the playoffs the past six years. The Wildcats only return 4 starters on offense and 5 on defense to a team that went 6-6 last season. The offensive line should be a strength as Ryan Corbett, Rick Mazur, and Justin Snyder all have experience. The defense will be made up of Corbett, Mazur, and Snyder on the line, and Mike Cahill at DB/LB. Cahill will move from his WR position a year ago into the role of QB. The line play should be the key to the success of East Allegheny’s season. Look for them to make another run at the playoffs and hover around the .500 mark.
If there was a slight favorite in the Allegheny Six Conference, it would be Freeport as they went 6-5 last year, made the playoffs, and return 7 starting lettermen on offense and defense. Coach John Gaillot hired Dave Leasure as the offensive coordinator with the hope of putting together a potent offense that will be tough to contend with. QB Ben Lane, RB Zach Clark, and WR Brady Stivenson return as skill guys. Lane is a dual threat quarterback. Brady Paga, Isaac Woods, and Payton Westendorf are back on the line. Defensively, LB Parker Lucas is hard to block and is always near the ball. Others returning to what should be a much-improved defense are, Lane, Jacksen Reiser, Colton Otterman, and Clark.
If the offense gels under the new system and Coach Gaillot finds the right pieces to go with the veterans, the Yellow Jackets will make the playoffs and will make some noise there too.
The Knights not only dropped down from the 4A classification, but they have a new coach in Tim Burchett. Knoch has struggled to win games the past couple of years (2-8 in 2021) and the drop should help along with some of the veterans coming back on both sides of the ball. Jake Murphy is back at tight end and linebacker plus Exzavier Johnson is back as a receiver and defensive end. Those two are the playmakers and leaders. Matt Carney, Nick Davis, and Wyatt Foster should be a help in the trenches. With new schemes on offense and defense it may take a few games to get the kinks out, but look for improvement from the Knights. Knoch will play all of their games on the road as their stadium is having artificial turf laid this fall.
Shady Side Academy –
Shady Side has moved up a class from 2A where they went 5-6 last year. Coach Chuck DiNardo has the most kids returning than anyone else in the conference with 9 starters on each side of the ball. They also may be the most talented. QB Max Wickland threw for over 1,100 yards and 11 TDs in 2021. Three receivers are back in the persons of Joey Bellinotti, Isaiah Grier, and TE James Bernier. RB Eddie Debruce will run behind a veteran line that includes Nate Ewell and Noah Yeh. Defensively, Bellinotti (CB), Bernier (LB), Wickland, Grier (CB), Ewell (DL), and Yeh (DL) return among others. The Bulldogs should have a good year and make the playoffs.
Dave Heavner takes over a program that won only two games last season (2-8) and returns the least of all conference teams. But the positive are the returnees are very athletic and dynamic and could help turn things around. QB Tristan Goodwin, RB Xavier Wilson, H-Backs Jeremy Hughley and Dallas Price, and lineman Cory Pinson are returning on offense. Heavner is making the kids earn their jobs, but it appears the same kids will also start on defense. The Vikings open with Armstrong which will be a very tough game. From there, if they can hold their own and play consistent, they just might be vying for a playoff spot.
Protime’s Projected Finish:
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