NA Hosts Canon-McMillan In Conference Opener

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The North Allegheny Tigers (1-0) open conference play tonight in WPIAL Class 6A with a home date against the Canon-McMillan Big Macs (1-0). The game is a rematch of last year’s WPIAL semifinal, a game in which the Tigers prevailed, 7-0, in a torrential downpour as a result of the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole. In a defensive struggle, North Allegheny quarterback Logan Kushner scored the game’s only touchdown on a 1-yard run with 6:44 remaining in the game to send the Tigers on to the WPIAL championship.

Tonight, weather will not be a factor on what should be a perfect night for football. However, two stingy defenses will remain a part of the story line. Both North Allegheny and Canon-McMillan are coming off Week Zero victories where the defenses blanked their opponent. The Tigers scored 42 points in the first quarter against Allderdice en route to a 61-0 drubbing of the Dragons. Kushner scored the first touchdown of the season on a 51-yard jaunt, while running backs Tyree Alualu and Liam Flaherty rushed for two touchdowns apiece. The defense forced three turnovers in the first quarter, including a fumble recovery and interception by junior defensive back James Donaldson. Senior safety Evan Lyon added an interception and 45-yard return that set up one of Flaherty’s rushing scores.

Canon-McMillan, meanwhile, was involved in a much more competitive game that resulted in a 14-0 win at Penn-Trafford. The game was scoreless until the third quarter when sophomore defensive back Jayden Baxter recovered a fumble and raced 93 yards for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter with Penn-Trafford driving toward a game-tying touchdown, the Big Macs defense once again turned away the Warriors with a goal line stand. Moments later, senior running back Zachary Welsh put the game on ice with a 93-yard touchdown run with 1:42 remaining to secure the victory.

Welsh, a transfer from Wash High, takes over at running back for Jake Kasper who graduated after posting over 1,400 yards on the ground and 10 touchdowns. The Big Macs will also need to fill a hole at wide receiver, where Austin Winkleblech, now a freshman pitcher at the University of Pittsburgh, was the top target in the passing game for the past three seasons. Last year, Winkleblech accounted for over 800 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

While two key skill players have graduated, Canon-McMillan returns a three-year starter at quarterback in the form of southpaw Mikey Evans, a first-team All-Conference signal caller from a season ago. Evans has thrown for over 3,000 yards in his career and has displayed more accuracy to go with his good mobility in and out of the pocket. The offensive line boasts several returning starters, including Liam Reamer, Mason Williams and junior center Matt McMahon. Senior tight end Kaeden Singleton is a Delaware commit and could arguably be the top receiving threat in the passing game.

On the other side of the football, Singleton is also a defensive end who has led the Big Macs in sacks the past two seasons. He already posted two sacks last week against Penn-Trafford. Senior linebacker Geno Calgaro has been the team leader in tackles the past two years, including 102 stops in 2022. Calgaro notched a team-best 18 tackles against the Warriors in Week Zero.

Since Canon-McMillan made the jump to the largest classification in the WPIAL in 2018, North Allegheny has won seven in a row against the Big Macs. That winning streak includes three playoff wins over the last four seasons.

Kickoff for tonight’s conference opener at Newman Stadium is slated for 7:30 p.m. in Wexford. The game will be broadcast live on the North Allegheny Sports Network with the pregame show getting underway at 7:10 p.m. Randy Gore and Jonathan Spina will have the call for tonight’s contest. To listen to tonight’s game, click here.