NA Takes On Shaler In Northern Seven Conference Matchup
The North Allegheny Tigers (1-2) are eying their first conference win on Friday night with a home contest against winless Shaler (0-3) at Newman Stadium. The Tigers are coming off a hard-fought loss to No. 2-ranked Central Catholic last week, 14-7. Shaler dropped its 17th consecutive game in week two with a 27-7 defeat to the Norwin Knights.
The 17 straight losses for Shaler is the longest current losing streak in the WPIAL. This comes after the Titans ended a 34-game losing streak with a 30-20 victory over Butler during the 2015 season. Shaler’s last victory came against Fox Chapel, 14-9, on October 9, 2015.
Faced with the task of rebuilding the Shaler program is first-year head coach Jim Ryan. Ryan is a former player and middle school football coach at Shaler who also played collegiately at Slippery Rock University. Ryan, who graduated in 2000 from Shaler, played on the Titans only team to win a section title in 1998 under former head coach Frank Rocco. For Ryan, progress can’t be measure in wins and losses but in strides that are made by his players each week. The Titans certainly displayed a strong desire and improved fundamentals in last week’s game against Norwin. Shaler played to a 7-7 tie at halftime until the Knights took control in the second half.
Providing a nucleus to build around are running backs Jake Pollak and Joey Kramer. The junior duo has combined for 271 yards rushing so far this season and saw significant playing time as sophomores last year. Starters on defense as well, look for Kramer and Pollak to make some plays during the coarse of the 2017 season.
For North Allegheny, the approach against Shaler is the same as it is against any other team and that is to play fundamental football and capture a victory. The Tigers turned the ball over three times in the first half against Central Catholic last week and that is certainly an area that head coach Art Walker wants to see addressed on Friday night.
Minus a couple big plays, the Tigers defense performed extremely well against the Vikings. Junior linebacker Dante Caputo led NA with nine tackles last week and owns a team-best 21 stops on the season. Sophomore defensive back Luke Collella grabbed the defense’s first interception of the season and junior Ethan Augustine corralled a Vikings turnover by recovering a fumble.
On offense, running back Turner White delivered his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season with 161 yards and a score against Central Catholic. On the season, White leads the team with 237 yards rushing and averages 5.3 yards per carry. Quarterback Luke Trueman has passed for 335 yards on the year and rushed for 210 yards, combining for three total touchdowns. The leading receiver for NA is senior John Vardzell who has hauled in seven passes for 98 yards.
Kickoff for Friday’s contest between North Allegheny and Shaler is slated for 7:30 p.m. from Newman Stadium. The game will be broadcast live via the internet on the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show getting underway at 7:10 p.m. The pregame show will include an interview with head coach Art Walker. To listen to the game, click here.