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Fox Chapel boys to rely on conditioning, depth to compete in Class AAAA

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Fox Chapel's Brian Papich takes part in a passing drill during practice at Fox Chapel High School Monday November 26, 2012 Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch

Despite Fox Chapel's two-year absence from the playoffs, the team won't be adjusting expectations.

“That's always a goal. That's always what we're working toward,” coach Zach Skrinjar said. “There's an expectation, but we have to earn getting there.”

Despite an overall record of 14-8, Fox Chapel finished fifth in Section 2-AAAA. The top four teams from each section qualify for the postseason.

A 5-7 mark in section put the Foxes behind the final qualifier, McKeesport, which had a 7-5 section record despite finishing 11-11 overall.

“I figure that motivation is there,” Skrinjar said. “I don't think there is any extra.”

Junior guards Brian Papich and Matt D'Amico return to a squad fueled by young players with experience.

Senior guard Nate Huwar saw time off the bench last season.

“The funny thing is D'Amico, Papich and Billy (Urso) have never played against kids their age,” Skrinjar said.

D'Amico has started since he was a freshman, and Papich earned a spot in the lineup all of last season. Urso, a sophomore guard, should see time off the bench.

Skrinjar hopes D'Amico and Papich can set a precedent for younger players hoping to make an impact, not just for this season, but for the future.

“They know how we are, and our expectations from them,” Skrinjar said. “They pretty much stepped up like we wanted them to do. We really didn't have to do anything about that.”

Skrinjar likes what his players have shown during the first stages of his preseason regimen, which starts and ends with conditioning.

The lead-up to the season is where Skrinjar hopes to make the most inroads.

“Obviously integrating younger kids in our system is key,” Skrinjar said. “That's kind of the stage we're at now. We'll be progressing to where we want to be in a couple weeks.”

The team may get to see that payoff sooner rather than later.

In Fox Chapel's up-tempo offense, a lot of substitutions are required to maintain the pace of play.

“Depth could be a strength for us,” Skrinjar said. “We also have seven or eight guys that are capable of stepping up and playing in those roles with those guys.”

Dave Yohe is a freelance writer.

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