North Hills football team primed for solid season
At North Hills, playing defense is not a phase of a football game, it is a matter of pride.
For a team to have pride, it must have heart, and at the heart of that defense is senior middle linebacker Anthony Danko, a player defensive coordinator Pat Carey said is the key component.
“The team is tough mentally, and Anthony (helps) bring that,” Carey said. “He leads by example and speaks with his actions.”
His idea is to let Danko patrol the field, and to do that, senior defensive lineman Andrew Ungerman and his linemates will have to keep the offensive linemen off the speedy linebacker.
“We have to occupy the gaps while trying to get sacks,” Ungerman said. “The strength of my game this year is my experience. I am looking for retribution for last year.”
To return to prominence, Ungerman simply stated the fact the team has to play together.
“There are a lot of teams out there with talent, but if you have to play together (to be successful,” he said, “you also have to play with enthusiasm and keep your head up.”
The front seven seems anchored, according to Carey, with a senior-laden group sprinkled in with some young talent, but the secondary is equally as strong with three returning players there.
Seniors Tyler Reddick, Josh Hulbert and Jordan Blackmon all are back and ready to contribute to keeping the opposing offense off the board.
“We have the ability to run and play smart,” Carey said.
Speed and smarts are going to be paramount, as this defense will have the task of chasing down runners such as Brock Baranowski of Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley's Forrest Barnes.
Defense might set the standard, but the offense has some firepower of its own, starting with a trio of running backs with a combined nine seasons of playing time under their belts.
Blackmon, Reddick and Hulbert are more than the starting secondary for the Indians, they will divvy up the carries and force opposing defenses to commit to stopping the run.
“If we can find a few more offensive linemen, we can do a lot of things (with these three backs),” said Jack McCurry, North Hills' head coach. “We have a good center and guard in (junior) Brandon Malick and Andrew Ungerman.”
McCurry still was trying to round out that group as training camp wore on.
Calling the signals will be the Brian Johnson, a senior who comes over from the basketball world. It has been awhile since he lined up under center, but, McCurry said, he is coming along.
“Brian has some things to learn, but he is athletic,” McCurry said.
Johnson will have a running game to work with, as well as junior tight end Corey Bopp, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound target, who also could serve as a nice blocker in the running game. At receiver, junior Larry Richardson will be one of the weapons the Indians will look at to balance the attack.
McCurry also is excited about kicker Wayne Carney, a senior, who can hit the long field goals, which might prove pivotal in close games.
“Wayne is accurate from the 40-45 yard range,” McCurry said. “We will give him a try if the situation come up.”
McCurry said the key to the success this season is how the young players fill in the gaps around an experienced nucleus.
“We have to see how they mesh,” McCurry said. “The expectations here are high. We have to find the kids who can meet them.”
Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-779-6979.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.