Team # 2 North Allegheny (7) 0-0
Written by: Josh Funk on Thursday, September 1st, 2011
The Tigers are coming off a dominating PIAA AAAA championship run which featured a punishing offensive line and dominant ground game and gave head coach Art Walker (116-40 overall) his fourth WPIAL (three as head coach, one as an assistant) and second PIAA championship in his coaching career. Sure, NA lost the services of talented seniors like running back Alex Papson, tight end/defensive end Rob Kugler (Purdue), two-way linemen Justin Haser (Ohio) and Vince Ciernewski, featured flanker Dan Slivka and linebacker and team leading tackler Kevin Cope, but there are enough pieces returning from last year’s 15-1, WPIAL and PIAA AAAA championship team for the Tigers to remain a big threat in the WPIAL landscape in 2011.
Running backs Vinnie Congedo and Alex DiCiantis and fullback Nick Passodelis (combined 138 rushes, 729 yds, 7 TD) return to form a three-pronged attack in the NA ground attack, and three starting offensive linemen, Pat Kugler (13+ D-1 offers), Pete Thistle and Zach Harvey, all return as well. Kugler, Thistle and Harvey helped to pave the way for a North Allegheny offense which averaged 345.1 yards (270.8 rush, 74.3 pass) and 31.6 points per game and scored 63 total offensive touchdowns (50 rushing, 13 passing) last year. While the Tigers didn’t pass much (averaging less than nine pass attempts per game in 2010), the top three returning receivers – Passodelis, Brandon Coniker and James Kleinhampl – caught a combined 14 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, the Tigers will be aided by the return of Coniker (39 tackles, four INTs), Thistle (21 tackles, two sacks), Nate Nachazel (35 tackles, team-leading 10 sacks) and Kevin Clemens (42 tackles – 23 solo). NA’s defense was one of the best in the state last season, allowing an average of 7.9 points per game, with four shutouts.
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