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Seven Tigers Earn First-Team Selections, 16 Total Honored By Big 56

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The Big 56 Conference announced on Tuesday that 16 North Allegheny Tigers were named to the 2021 Class 6A all-conference teams. Of the NA all-conference honorees, seven of which were tabbed first-teamers, with one second-teamer and eight honorable mentions.

Earning first-team all-conference laurels were senior receiver Dwayne Taylor, sophomore receiver Khiryn Boyd, senior guard Nick Frisco, senior defensive end Will Sheridan, senior defensive end Jacob Porter, sophomore linebacker Tyree Alualu and senior defensive back Kolin Dinkins. NA’s lone representative on the second-team all-conference list was senior defensive back Kyrell Hutcherson.

On offense, the receiving duo of Taylor and Boyd lit up opposing defenses as the pair combined for over 800 yards and 10 touchdowns. Individually, Boyd led the Tigers with 26 receptions for 454 yards and six touchdowns, while adding 170 yards on the ground and four rushing scores. Taylor, a WPIAL champion in the Triple Jump, corralled 25 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Taylor also paced the Tigers on defense with a team-leading 73 tackles and three interceptions, including a pick-six against Mentor in week two. Like Taylor, Frisco was a two-way player that helped anchor the offensive and defensive lines. Frisco was part of an offense that averaged 31 points per game, third best in Class 6A. On defense, Frisco made 11 tackles, one sack and had two crucial fumble recoveries against Seneca Valley in week 10.

During most of the 2021 season, the North Allegheny defense was often relied upon and always up to the challenge. The edge pass rush from Sheridan and Porter was arguably the best in all of Class 6A. Sheridan tallied 38 tackles and three sacks this season, while Porter made 52 stops and 13.5 sacks. Porter’s 13.5 sacks were the most by a North Allegheny player since Jeremy Gonzales posted 12 sacks in 2012.

In his first-year as a starter at North Allegheny, Alualu made an instant impact with a fumble recovery and interception in a week zero win against Allderdice. On the season, Alualu finished with 55 tackles and 4.5 sacks. In the secondary, Dinkins and Hutcherson were a pair of ball hawks, who often came up with big play interceptions. Dinkins totaled 63 tackles, second best on the squad, with one sack and one interception. His lone interception was significant as Dinkins hauled in a 95-yard pick six against Canon-McMillan to solidify a 49-26 blowout win in the WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals. Hutcherson, who missed two games due to injury, made 23 tackles on the season and thieved two enemy passes. One of his interceptions was a tide-turning pick against Mentor in week two that helped NA rally from a 10-3 deficit for a 20-16 win.

Additional to first and second team members, the Big 56 selected senior linebacker Dominic O’Barto, senior center Josh Ruppert, junior tackle Abdullah Daud, senior tight end Connor Casten, sophomore quarterback Logan Kushner, senior running back J.R. Burton, senior receiver Cole Dorn and junior kicker Harron Lee as honorable mention picks. For an entire listing of the Class 6A All-Conference team from the Big 56 Conference, click here.

All 16 players made a significant impact on the 2021 North Allegheny team that finished 7-5 overall and reached the WPIAL semifinals for a sixth consecutive season.

Tigers Look To Stifle Big Macs In WPIAL Playoff Opener

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The North Allegheny Tigers (6-4) open the WPIAL playoffs tonight with a Class 6A quarterfinal matchup with the Canon-McMillan Big Macs (4-6). The Tigers qualified for the postseason as the No. 4 seed and the Big Macs are appearing in the playoffs for the third time in the last four years as the No. 5 seed.

Despite a loss last week to Seneca Valley in the regular season finale, 17-12, the Tigers have won three of their last four games entering the playoffs. NA is hoping to reach the WPIAL semifinals for a sixth consecutive season.

Canon-McMillan, meanwhile, is looking for their first playoff win since 2004, which was a 22-0 victory in over Belle Vernon in the WPIAL Class 4A first round. Since a 45-27 win over Hempfield in week five, the Big Macs have lost four games in a row heading into tonight’s contest.

Since Canon-McMillan made the jump to Class 6A four years ago, North Allegheny has won six in a row in the head-to-head series. In week seven, the Tigers rallied from a 14-0 deficit with 36 unanswered en route to a 36-14 triumph. The NA defense hounded Canon-McMillan quarterback Mike Evans into seven sacks, including 3.5 by senior defensive lineman Jacob Porter. Senior Dwayne Taylor hauled in a 51-yard touchdown pass and intercepted a pass on defense. Senior running back J.R. Burton helped the Tigers pull away down the stretch with 77 yards and two touchdowns in the final stanza.  Sophomore quarterback Logan Kushner passed for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

Kickoff for tonight’s WPIAL quarterfinal matchup will kickoff at 7:00 p.m. at Newman Stadium. The game will be broadcast live via the internet on the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show getting underway at 6:40 p.m. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.

NA Visits Seneca Valley With Playoff Bye At Stake

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The No. 3 seed and a bye into the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals are at stake tonight as the North Allegheny Tigers (6-3, 4-2) visit the Seneca Valley Raiders (6-3, 4-2) at NexTier Stadium. Always an important contest when these teams meet up, tonight’s regular season finale will be no different. The winner will finish in third place and has next week off, while the loser of tonight’s game will finish in fourth place and hosts a playoff game next Friday night.

North Allegheny enters tonight’s contest on a three-game winning streak, having recently defeated Hempfield last week, 65-13. The 65 points were the most scored in a single-game during Art Walker’s tenure as head coach. Against the Spartans, sophomore quarterback Logan Kushner passed for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and added 81 yards and a score on four carries. Sophomore wideout Khiryn Boyd score three touchdowns in three different ways, with a rushing, receiving and kick return touchdown. The NA defense created five sacks and four turnovers, including an interception by junior cornerback Campbell Melzer.

Seneca Valley, meanwhile, is coming off a 38-7 loss to Mt. Lebanon last week. To this point, the Tigers and Raiders have defeated and lost to the same teams in conference play this season. Tonight’s game will be the contest that sets them apart.

The Raiders have been bit by the injury bug this season, including the quarterback position. Junior starting quarterback Graham Hancox has passed for over 1,000 yards but has missed the last two games due to injury. Sophomore Sean O’Shea has stepped in over the last two weeks and passed for 227 yards and three touchdowns two weeks ago in a 49-12 win at Baldwin. It is uncertain as to who will get the starting nod tonight.

Regardless of which quarterback plays, Seneca Valley will rely on senior running back Nolan Dworek. A second-team all-conference running back from a season ago, Dworek is the team’s primary ball carrier and leading rusher for the second consecutive year. Dworek earned significant playing time in 2020 because of injuries to Ethan West and is a well-seasoned runner in the Raiders zone blocking scheme. At receiver, junior Luke Lawson was an all-conference honorable mention pick last season and senior Brandon Ross is another playmaker, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in a 24-20 win over Pine-Richland in week one.

On defense, junior linebacker Chris D’Appolonia is a top tackler and junior defensive end Aiden Lyczek is a force up front. Lawson is also a standout at cornerback.

The last time North Allegheny and Seneca Valley met, it was another important game in the 2020 WPIAL Class 6A semifinals. The Tigers won by a 21-7 decision thanks to a dominating performance by the defense. NA limited Seneca Valley to 81 total yards and a 1-for-10 conversion rate on third downs. Nate Hoke rushed for two touchdowns on offense, and added a sack and game-clinching interception in the fourth quarter on defense. Seneca Valley’s lone touchdown came on a fumble return for a score by Deontae Webb in fourth quarter.

The last time North Allegheny played at NexTier Stadium, the Tigers rolled the Raiders by a 40-7 final. Quarterback Ben Petschke led the way with 147 yards passing and two touchdowns, and rushed for another 71 yards and a score.

Kickoff for tonight’s game between North Allegheny and Seneca Valley is slated for 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network, with the pregame show getting underway at 6:40 p.m. To listen to tonight’s broadcast, click here.

NA Hosts Hempfield On Senior Night

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It’s senior night at Newman Stadium as the North Allegheny Tigers (5-3, 3-2) play host to the Hempfield Spartans (2-6, 0-5) in Class 6A Quad County Conference action.

The Tigers enter tonight’s game having won two straight and coming off an important conference road win at Canon-McMillan last week, 36-14. Against the Big Macs, the Tigers fell behind 14-0 but scored 36 unanswered points to claim the victory. NA was sparked by a 52-yard touchdown pass from Logan Kushner to Dwayne Taylor to get on the board early in the second quarter. The NA defense took it from there with seven sacks and three turnovers. Senior Jacob Porter posted 3.5 sacks, while Taylor intercepted a pass and Tyree Alualu and Evan Lyon recovered fumbles. Senior running back J.R. Burton put Canon-McMillan away in the fourth quarter with five carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

Hempfield, meanwhile, has lost five in a row and is coming off a 35-0 drubbing at the hands of the Central Catholic Vikings. The Spartans offense has struggled this season and hasn’t scored in three weeks. Over the last five weeks, Hempfield has been shutout three times.

Hempfield’s spread offense will try to find a spark tonight with quarterback Jake Phillips leading the way. The junior signal caller has passed for 867 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. Phillip’s favorite receiver is junior Ian Tuffs with 30 catches for 348 yards and four touchdowns. In the running game, senior Gino Caesar has rushed for a team-leading 586 yards and three touchdowns.

The Spartans are led by first-year head coach Mike Brown. At 30-years old, Brown is the youngest coach in Class 6A and previously served as the defensive coordinator at Greensburg Central Catholic for the last two seasons. Brown also spent time as the linebackers and defensive back coach at Robert Morris University.

Brown is looking to rebuild a program that hasn’t had a playoff win since 1997 and hasn’t reached the postseason since 2016. The Spartans last WPIAL playoff appearance was a short one, ending in a 42-7 quarterfinal round loss to North Allegheny. On a night of big plays, quarterback Ethan Maenza (Dartmouth) opened the scoring with a 95-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Defensive back Nico Mermigas (Dartmouth) added a 99-yard pick six to help spark the rout.

The last meeting between these two teams was in 2019 at Newman Stadium and North Allegheny’s exploded for a 62-35 win. Luke Colella (Princeton) posted nearly 200 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in the victory. NA and Hempfield didn’t play in 2020 due to COVID.

Tonight’s game between North Allegheny and Hempfield will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. The pregame show gets underway at 6:40 pm on the North Allegheny Sports Network.

 

Tigers Ready To Rumble With Big Macs Tonight

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The North Allegheny Tigers (4-3, 2-2) take on the Canon-McMillan Big Macs tonight (4-3, 2-2) in a significant Class 6A matchup at Big Mac Stadium in Canonsburg. Both teams are tied for fourth place in the Quad County Conference standings and hope to get a leg up on a playoff berth with a win tonight.

North Allegheny is coming off a 42-24 win over Norwin last week in front of a Homecoming crowd at Newman Stadium. The Tigers outlasted the Knights and an 82-minute lightning delay to prevail. Sophomore quarterback Logan Kushner had a breakout performance, completing 8 of 14 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was fellow sophomore Khiryn Boyd, who hauled in four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Boyd also rushed for 49 yards and two more scores. Senior Dwayne Taylor reeled in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kushner to put Norwin away in the fourth quarter. Equally as effective, the North Allegheny running game wore down the Knights in the second half. Senior J.R. Burton rushed for 74 yards and a score and sophomore fullback Aiden Buggey punished Norwin with 61 tough yards on six carries.

Looking to build on last week’s victory, North Allegheny visits a Canon-McMillan team that has played well in its first seven games but is coming off a 24-17 loss in double overtime at Seneca Valley. The Big Macs led 14-6 in the second half but couldn’t stop Seneca Valley’s Nolan Dworek, who rushed for 120 yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

Despite the conference loss last week, Canon-McMillan is a program on the rise and is led by head coach Mike Evans, the Class 6A Coach of the Year in 2019. His son, also named Mike, is a sophomore starting quarterback that has passed for 957 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions this season. The southpaw signal caller is a mobile quarterback and has rushed for four touchdowns as well.  When it comes to the ground game, the Big Macs boast one of the top running backs in the classification in the form of senior Ryan Angott. He was a first-team all-conference running back last season and led Class 6A in rushing with 672 yards and seven touchdowns. Through seven games this season, Angott has near identical numbers with 671 yards and eight rushing scores. Slowing down Angott and containing Evans will be a priority for the North Allegheny defense tonight.

On the other side of the football, Canon-McMillan has an opportunistic defense that has collectively intercepted eight passes and hounded opponents into 21 sacks. The leading tackler of this group is sophomore linebacker Gene Calgaro with 59 tackles and four sacks. The leading sack man is sophomore Kaeden Singleton with 5.5 sacks to go along with 16 tackles. Of the eight interceptions, no one the team has more than one.

North Allegheny team leaders so far this season include senior defensive end Jacob Porter with 7.5 sacks and senior Kyrell Hutcherson with two interceptions. Taylor is NA’s leading tackler with 43 stops this season, and on offense, he’s the leading receiver as well with 17 catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Burton is the Tigers’ leading rusher with 407 yards and three touchdowns.

Since Canon-McMillan and North Allegheny were placed in the same conference in Class 6A four years ago, the Tigers have won five in a row against the Big Macs. Last season, North Allegheny blanked the Big Macs 35-0 at Newman Stadium. Then-senior quarterback Greg Phillips passed for 240 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Angott did not play in the game for Canon-McMillan due to injury.

It’s been three years since North Allegheny has made the trip down Interstate 79 to play the Big Macs on the road. In their last meeting in Washington County in 2018, the Tigers prevailed 45-21. With NA leading 24-21 with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter, the turning point came on a 1st and 17 play from the Tigers 8-yard line. Filling in due to injuries at the QB position, Peter Vardzel tossed an 82-yard pass to Corey Melzer, who raced to the CM 10-yard line. The big play set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Ben Maenza and the Tigers rolled in the remaining minutes of the second half. Maenza rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

Tonight’s game between North Allegheny and Canon-McMillan is slated to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. from Big Mac Stadium. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network, with the pregame show getting underway at 6:40 p.m. The pregame show includes an interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To listen to tonight’s broadcast, click here.  

Tigers To Host Norwin Tonight At Homecoming

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It’s Homecoming at Newman Stadium tonight as the North Allegheny Tigers (3-3, 1-2) welcome the Norwin Knights (2-4, 0-3) to Wexford. After back-to-back conference losses to the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams in Class 6A, the Tigers are hungry for a win. They’ll face a Norwin team that has lost three in a row entering tonight’s contest, including a 21-10 loss to Baldwin last week.

The Knights opened the season by winning two of their first three games with victories over Latrobe (31-28) and Connellsville (37-0). However, once conference play began, Norwin dropped contests to Central Catholic (50-0) and Baldwin, while also forfeiting a game to Seneca Valley due to COVID protocols.

A player to watch for Norwin on both offense and defense is senior Dom Barca. An all-conference honorable mention at running back a season ago, the Knights will utilize Barca in a variety of ways to get the football in his hands. Barca is second on the team in rushing and receiving with 166 rushing yards and 102 yards receiving. He is also a starting safety on defense.

The leading rusher and passer for the Knights is senior quarterback Luke Levandosky. A first-year starter at the position, Levandosky has thrown for 373 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, while rushing for a team-best 266 yards and two scores. His top threat in the passing game is sophomore wideout Jackson Pons, an up-and-coming receiver with 171 yards and a touchdown on 15 receptions on the campaign.

Kickoff for tonight’s Homecoming game between North Allegheny and Norwin is set for 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live via the internet by the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show getting underway at 7:10 p.m. The pregame show includes our weekly conversation with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.

NA Travels To Undefeated Mt. Lebanon Tonight

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At the midway point in the 2021 season, the North Allegheny Tigers (3-2, 1-1) visit the undefeated and second-ranked Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils (5-0, 2-0).

The Tigers look to bounce back from a 24-7 loss to top-ranked Central Catholic last week. NA hung tough with the two-time reigning champs for much of the contest before the Vikings’ running game put things out of reach in the fourth quarter. Senior Kolin Dinkins was a bright spot with a 62-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to pull NA to within a score of the Vikings and added eight tackles on defense. Sophomore linebacker Tyree Alualu notched eight tackles as well and rushed for 29 yards on a fake punt in the second half.

Mt. Lebanon, meanwhile, has rolled to five straight wins and is coming off a 48-14 win over Hempfield last week. Senior quarterback Joey Daniels passed for three touchdowns in the win over the Spartans, including a 72-yard scoring strike to senior wideout Eli Heidenreich that opened the scoring in the first quarter.

On the season, Daniels has passed for 750 yards, 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. A three-year starter at quarterback, Daniels led Class 6A in passing touchdowns last season with 14 in seven games.

The “big three” on offense for Mt. Lebanon is Daniels, Heidenreich and running back Alex Tecza. Heidenriech is a Navy commit and a big-play threat with 13 receptions for 468 yards and seven touchdowns. Tecza, who has offers from Ivy League and Patriot League schools, has rushed for 540 yards and six touchdowns. He was the leading rusher for the Blue Devils a season ago. Heidenreich and Tecza are both all-conference returnees in the secondary on defense as well.

Mt. Lebanon is led by head coach Bob Palko, who is in his third year as head man with the Blue Devils after 24 highly successful seasons at West Allegheny. Palko led the Indians to eight WPIAL titles and one PIAA crown. Under Palko’s tutelage, Mt. Lebanon reached the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals the last two seasons having been ousted by Central Catholic on both occasions.

Kickoff for tonight’s game between North Allegheny and Mt. Lebanon is slate for 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show getting underway at 6:40 p.m., including a pregame interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.

Tigers Host Central Catholic Tonight In Class 6A Clash

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In a clash of Class 6A powers, the North Allegheny Tigers (3-1, 1-0) will host the Central Catholic Vikings (3-1, 1-0) tonight at Newman Stadium. The contest is a rematch of a last year’s WPIAL Class 6A title game, a contest won by the Vikings 38-24 at Martorelli Stadium.

Both teams enter tonight’s contest coming off blowout wins last week. The Tigers won their conference opener last Friday by rolling over the Baldwin Fighting Highlanders on the road, 61-14. Sophomore quarterback Logan Kushner earned Wright Automotive Player of the Game honors, completing 5-of-7 passes for 82 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his scoring strikes went to senior Kyrell Hutcherson, who finished with four catches for 72 yards. The Tigers outgained the Highlanders, 472-147.

In similar fashion, Central Catholic coasted to a 50-0 win over Norwin last week and has won three in a row since an opening day to loss to Imhotep Charter, 12-6. The Vikings average 38 points per game on offense and are directed by sophomore quarterback Peyton Wehner, who has thrown for 454 yards and five touchdowns, to go along with 45 yards rushing and three more scores. Wehner has a bevy of talented skill players to work with, including junior tailback Gannon Carothers, who has rushed for 414 yards and six scores. In the passing game, a pair of newcomers have helped bolster the receiving corps. Sophomore transfers Vernon Settles (Elizabeth Forward) and Peter Gonzalez (Mars) add depth and talent behind leading receiver and speedster, Brandon Jackson. Jackson and Carothers are also threats in the return game for Central Catholic.

The defense, a unit that permits 14 points per game, is anchored by defensive lineman Donovan Hinish. A first team all-conference pick in 2020, Hinish is ranked 33rd in the nation at defensive tackle by Rivals.com. Another first-team all-conference selection is back at linebacker in the form of J.D. Younger, who is second on the team in tackles with 20. Central Catholic’s leading tackler is sophomore linebacker Anthony Speca with 37 stops. Speca came on strong during his freshman campaign and earned Freshman All-American honors from Max Preps. In the secondary, senior Keith Cushenberry is the team leader in interceptions with two on the year.

Prior to last season’s championship game loss to Central Catholic, North Allegheny had won three in a row against the Vikings. The last time NA and PCC met at Newman Stadium was on Sept. 7, 2018, with the Tigers blowing out the Vikings, 27-3. Running back Ben Maenza led the offense with 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The NA defense forced Central Catholic into six turnovers, including interceptions by Joey Porter Jr. (Penn State) and Cory Melzer (Lehigh).

Kickoff for tonight’s game between North Allegheny and Central Catholic is slated for 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network broadcast crew of Randy Gore and Jonathan Spina, with the pregame show getting underway at 7:10 p.m. The pregame show will include an interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.

NA Storms Baldwin Tonight To Open Conference Play In Class 6A

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The North Allegheny Tigers (2-1) will play their conference opener tonight with a visit to the South Hills to face the Baldwin Fighting Highlanders (0-3). Tonight’s meeting on the gridiron pits two teams that don’t often play each other. The last time North Allegheny and Baldwin were members of the same conference was back 1989 as members of the Quad West. The Highlanders bumped up into Class 6A in 2020 but last season’s scheduled meeting between the two teams was canceled due to COVID-19.

As historical records best indicate, the last meeting between North Allegheny and Baldwin occurred in the 1998 WPIAL playoffs, a first round game that the Tigers won 40-0. That season, North Allegheny also defeated Bethel Park, 20-14, and Penn Hills, 14-0, en route to the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game at Three Rivers Stadium. The Tigers fell in the title tilt to New Castle, 14-7.

North Allegheny enters tonight’s game coming off an impressive 20-16 win against Mentor (OH) last week. The Tigers’ victory was keyed by the defense, which included a pick-six by defensive back Dwayne Taylor and an interception by Kyrell Hutcherson that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tanner Potts. The touchdown by Potts put NA up 17-10 in the third quarter and proved to be the game-winning touchdown. Potts rushed for 65 yards on 18 carries and J.R. Burton had five totes for 79 yards, including a 68-yard burst in the waning minutes that helped put the game away.

Tonight’s opponent has had a rough go of it so far in 2021 with blowout losses to McKeesport, Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair. Last week, Baldwin dropped a 48-14 decision to USC. The Highlanders are led by second-year head coach Tim Sweeney, who recently turned around the Derry football program. Under Sweeney’s tutelage, the Trojans posted a record of 40-8 and reached the WPIAL Class AAA championship game in 2018. Derry put forth a valiant effort but fell to perennial Class AAA power Aliquippa in the championship game, 42-19. As he did at Derry, coach Sweeney is hoping to rebuild the football program at Baldwin as well.

One of the fun storylines for tonight’s game is that it will be a homecoming of sorts for North Allegheny head coach Art Walker. Walker was a standout wide receiver and track athlete at Baldwin before a Hall of Fame football career at Clarion. A member of Baldwin’s graduating class in 1988, Walker will return to his old stomping grounds tonight but on the opposing sideline as the 17th-year head coach of the Tigers.

Kickoff for tonight’s game is slated for 7:00 p.m. at Baldwin. The game will be broadcast live by the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show getting underway at 6:40 p.m. To listen to tonight’s broadcast, click here.

Tigers Stampede Into Week Two Matchup With Mentor (OH)

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The North Allegheny Tigers (1-1) continue their rugged early season non-conference schedule by hosting the Mentor Cardinals (2-1) tonight at Newman Stadium. Both teams are looking to rebound from losses last week. The Tigers fell to Ohio powerhouse Pickerington Central, 35-0, while a short-handed Cardinals squad lost to St. Edward, 47-7.

Similar to Pickerington, Mentor also has a strong tradition of playing winning football in Ohio’s largest classification. Since 2000, Mentor has the best overall winning percentage (.778) in Division I with a record of 203-58 during that span. Last season, Mentor went 9-2 and reached the state semifinals before falling to Pickerington Central. The Cardinals enter tonight’s contest ranked sixth in the state by Max Preps and ranked fifth in the Greater Cleveland Conference.

One of Mentor’s top athletes is junior defensive end, Brenan Vernon. The 6-5, 260-pound stalwart is a five-star prospect that is verbally committed to Notre Dame. Vernon is the 39th overall prospect in America for the Class of 2023 by 247 Sports and is the second-ranked defensive lineman in Ohio by Rivals.com.

Offensively, the Cardinals boast a high-flying passing offense that has produced many successful quarterbacks over the years. Most notably, the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Mitchell Trubisky, played for Mentor from 2010-2012 and passed for over 9,000 yards and 92 touchdowns, while adding 1,559 yards rushing and 33 more scores. Trubisky was drafted by the Chicago Bears and is now a backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.

Mentor’s starting quarterback, Jacob Snow, tossed four touchdown passes in a season-opening 49-7 win over Canton McKinley. However, Snow was lost to injury last week and the offense struggled with freshman Scotty Fox under center. While it’s unknown who will get the start at quarterback tonight, one of the top targets in the passing game is the exceptionally speedy Evan Harper. The senior wideout was a second-team All-District pick last season and is the GCC champion in the 100m dash and Long Jump. Harper is also an electric return man on special teams and returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown during a hard-fought 28-26 win over St. Ignatius two weeks ago.

Mentor is led by second-year head coach Matt Gray. Gray lettered three years at the University of Dayton and has been a part of the Mentor coaching staff since 2012, including three seasons as offensive coordinator before being named head coach.

Tonight marks the first meeting all-time between North Allegheny and Mentor with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m. at Newman Stadium. The pregame show is slated for 6:40 p.m., including a pregame interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.  

NA To Tangle With Ohio Powerhouse Pickerington Central

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The North Allegheny Tigers (1-0) travel out of state tonight to face the Pickerington Central Tigers (2-0) near Columbus, Ohio. North Allegheny is coming off a 47-14 triumph against Allderdice in Week Zero, a victory that was sparked by the defense and special teams. Linebacker Tyree Alualu intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, defensive back Kyrell Hutcherson hauled in an interception, lineman Luke Rumpler recovered a fumble and senior Connor Casten tallied a blocked punt to set up the offense. Quarterbacks Tanner Potts and Logan Kushner split time and each threw one TD pass and ran for a score in the rout of the Dragons.

North Allegheny will have a much stiffer test tonight, locking horns with one of the top programs in Ohio. Pickerington Central is a Division I program, playing in the highest class in the state, and was the D-I runner-up last season finishing with an 11-1 record. Pickerington won state crowns in 2017 and 2019 and is vying for another this season.

To start 2021, Pickerington boasts victories over two storied Ohio programs with wins over Massillon (26-7) and Elder (28-10). Massillon was the D-II runner-up a season ago and Elder was a state finalist in 2019, losing to Pickerington in the title tilt.

Also nicknamed the Tigers, Pickerington has several Division I collegiate recruits, including junior defensive back Alex “Sonny” Styles. Styles is the son of former Farrell High School standout and NFL player, Lorenzo Styles Sr., who won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in 2000. The younger Styles is the sixth-ranked player in the Class of 2023 according to Rivals.com. His older brother, Lorenzo Styles Jr., is a freshman wide receiver at Notre Dame.

Pickerington boasts a big and burly offensive line that is anchored by 6-4, 310-pound left tackle and Rutgers commit, Kobe Asamoah. The defensive line features senior C.J. Doggette (University of Cincinnati), Tyler Gillison (University of Cincinnati), Dakari Frazier (Ball State) and Kobi Gorman (D-I recruit). With immense size on both sides of the line, Pickerington typically looks to wear down opponents with its physicality and potent running game, led by senior tailback Olando Kamara with 286 yards and two touchdowns in two games this season.

Tonight’s game is slated to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. from Columbus, Ohio. The contest will be broadcast live via the internet by the North Allegheny Sports, with the pregame show set for 6:40 p.m. Randy Gore and Jonathan Spina have the call. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.

Tigers Host Allderdice Tonight In 2021 Season Opener

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The North Allegheny Tigers kickoff the 2021 season tonight with a Week Zero contest against the Allderdice Dragons at Newman Stadium. After reaching the WPIAL Class 6A championship game a season ago, the Tigers embark on a quest to return to the title game and claim the program’s first crown since 2012.

Tonight’s opponent, Allderdice, is a perennial contender in Pittsburgh’s City League and has appeared in the league’s championship game in six of the past eight seasons. In that span, the Dragons won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. Led by head coach Jerry Haslett, the Dragons finished the 2020 campaign with a 4-2 record.

Allderdice will face a North Allegheny team that graduated quite a bit of talent from a 6-1 season in 2020 but is ready to reload in 2021. On defense, the Tigers return all-conference performers Jacob Porter, Nick Frisco and Kolin Dinkins. Porter and Frisco will be joined on the starting defensive front along with Luke Rumpler and Will Sheridan. At linebacker, there will be three new starters with exceptional speed and sideline-to-sideline ability in the form of Nate Spak, Tyree Alualu and Dominic O’Barto. In addition to Dinkins at safety, the starting defensive backs will be composed of Kyrell Hutcherson, Dwayne Taylor and Campbell Melzer.

Offensively, the Tigers have the biggest turnover from last year’s playoff team but do return leading rusher J.R. Burton, who was named a Big 56 Conference all-conference honorable mention with 330 yards rushing and four touchdowns in 2020. Like last season, Burton will likely split time at running back along with Andrew Gavlik and Dinkins. A WPIAL triple jump champion in track and field last spring, Taylor highlights a receiving corps that also features Cole Dorn, Khyrin Boyd, Anthony Provenzano, Anthony Varlotta and Hutcherson. Facilitating the football to NA’s exceptional skill players will be starting quarterback Tanner Potts. Senior Logan Kushner is also expected to see time at QB this season. Doing the dirty work in the trenches will be offensive linemen Frisco, Rumpler, Abdullah Daud, Josh Ruppert and Elijah Smith. Tight ends Sheridan and Connor Casten will contribute as pass catchers and run blockers.

North Allegheny specialists include punter Rourke Kennedy and place kicker Harron Lee.

The Tigers are led by 17th-year head coach Art Walker, the all-time winningest coach in program history with 152 victories. Walker is in his 24th year of coaching overall with an all-time record of 213-61. Both Walker and Allderdice coach Jerry Haslett are products of Clarion University and members of the school’s athletics Hall of Fame.

Kickoff for tonight’s game between North Allegheny and Allderdice is set for 7:30 p.m at Newman Stadium. The game will be broadcast live via the internet on the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show beginning at 7:10 p.m. The pregame show includes an interview with Tigers head coach Art Walker with a season preview of the 2021 team and WPIAL Class 6A. To listen to tonight’s broadcast, click here.