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SSA grad looks to help turn Lafayette into a winner

| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, 5:19 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Shady Side Academy's Anthony Loyacona runs over Ford City's Garrett Sigler during the first quarter Thursday October 8, 2009 in Fox Chapel. (Christopher Horner/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Anthony Loyacona was used to playing on both sides of the ball during his playing days at Shady Side Academy.

Last year, as a freshman at Lafayette, the 2011 SSA grad only had to concentrate on one position and he saw enough action to earn a letter.

"One of my goals in football was to earn a letter in my freshman year and I was able to do that," Loyacona said. "I saw playing time at free safety and I also played a lot on special teams.

"As the season progressed, my playing time increased. All in all, I was satisfied with the progress I made."

Something that took some getting used to for Loyacona was the losses.

At Shady Side Academy, he was part of a team that made the WPIAL playoffs all four years Loyacona played.

The Indians also won a pair of conference championships while he was there.

Lafayette finished at 4-7 in the Patriot League last season.

"We had some close games that we lost but we're hoping to turn it around this year," he said. "We'll be getting the majority of the team back both on offense and defense.

"We're hoping to have a good season."

The shift from playing WPIAL Class AA football to playing for a D-I AA team took some getting used to for the 6-foot-1, 205-pound economics major.

"I think the toughest part was learning the defense," Loyacona said, "the strategies and knowing where you're supposed to be on every play.

"Plus, the size of the players was a big difference. But knowing that I was only going to be playing one position made it easier. Unlike high school, I was able to concentrate solely on defense and I think I got better as the season wore on."

He also had to learn to manage his time between academics and athletics a little better, but he said his days at Shady Side had him pretty much prepared.

"I was always involved in two sports at SSA and I learned how to balance the classroom and the field," he said.

And even though he is focused on his game, Loyacona keeps a close watch on the football program at SSA.

"I would always check the scores and I was able to make it back to see them play Burrell," he said. "They should be good again this year.

"They lost some good guys but they have some good ones coming back."

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