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Versatile running back returns to lead Brentwood

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 7:06 p.m.
Brentwood's Mike Kish catches balls on the sidelines as he nurses an injured ankle on Wednesday August 15, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Brentwood's Justin Vickless catches a pass in the flat during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

Brentwood running back Justin Vickless will be a third-year starter at the varsity level.

And he's only a junior.

“Justin is a tough kid. We need him to have a big year,” coach Kevin Kissel said. “He is our main ball carrier. Obviously, he is the key to our team.”

The versatile Vickless led Brentwood in rushing, receiving and scoring in 2011, and totaled 1,199 yards offensively.

“Justin has good weight, good muscle, and he has good speed; he makes people miss,” Kissel said. “He is a born runner, has a talent you can't teach. He knows how to cut.”

Vickless has grown from a 143-pound “scatback” to a 5-foot-10, 162-pound running back this offseason.

He rushed for 1,017 yards and 14 touchdowns on 165 carries, good for a 6.2 yards-per-carry average.

He also caught 19 passes for 182 yards, and scored 18 touchdowns to rank among the WPIAL's leading offensive players.

Brentwood ended its 2011 banner season with a 9-2 overall record. The Spartans lost only to Clairton and Sto-Rox last year — the teams that played in the WPIAL Class A championship game.

There are 10 starters back from last year's squad, and most will play both offense and defense.

The offensive line was a team strength in 2011 and, with all but one starter — Alhussain Yasin — returning this season, is expected to be even stronger this time around.

“This could be one of the strongest teams we've had at Brentwood in all my years of coaching,” Kissel said. “The offensive linemen are experienced and strong. They did a lot of work in the weight room. Hopefully that will translate to the field this year.”

There is depth in the trenches also, including center Jeremy Cenci; guards Tyler Stadelman, Joe Farrah and Robert Domer; tackles John Schmitt, Josh Gallagher and Brendan Mulholland; plus tight end Michael Kish.

Kish, who has received recruiting interest from Maryland and Pitt, has made a verbal commitment to Akron.

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