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Injuries already hurting Fox Chapel's chances for success

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:56 p.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Fox Chapel running back Chad Garnett runs the ball during practice at Fox Chapel High School on Tuesday, August 13, 2013.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Fox Chapel quarterback Brandon Mitchell throws a pass during practice at Fox Chapel High School on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013.

Before a block was thrown in preseason camp, Fox Chapel had more than its share of injuries.

Third-year coach Eric Ravotti had to deal with season-ending injuries to five projected starters, including tight end/linebacker Quinton Wirginis, who committed to Pitt.

Wirginis sustained a broken bone and a torn tendon to his foot in late July.

Also, safety Tyler Heasley, wide receiver/defensive back Brian O'Brien, linebacker and team captain Cory Camarote and tackle Cullen Higgins had their seasons end prior to the official start of training camp.

“It's tough,” Ravotti said. “We have (several) potential starters out for the year, and we have five other starters gone from graduation.”

Ravotti is faced with the tricky situation of finding a balance between hitting hard at practice and limiting contact, while not risking additional injuries.

Reporting to camp healthy as the Foxes hope to improve on last year's 1-8 record are four key players to build around.

Brandon Mitchell (6-6, 210) can play a variety of positions, including quarterback and running back.

Also getting looks by colleges are senior twins Nigel and Chad Garrett, both three-year starters.

Ravotti is pleased with the progress of quarterback Billy Urso, who led the team with 408 passing yards.

“Billy's a rising leader and he's coming on strong,” Ravotti said. “He'll be leading our offense along with (Mitchell).”

Also back and healthy is junior inside linebacker/tight end David Brown.

Carrington Vaughn, a junior, is already a three-year veteran at running back, and junior outside linebacker Greg Yaksich “has really transformed himself into a lockdown receiver,” Ravotti said.

There's more good news at Fox Chapel: a ninth-grade team will be formed.

Recently, ninth graders have been moved up to junior varsity. Now they'll be able to develop on their own.

Numbers continue to grow for Ravotti and the Foxes.

Two years ago, there were about 30 players suiting up. Now, the team has more than doubled its player turnout, despite last year's record.

Fox Chapel will begin its 53rd season Friday at home against Pine-Richland.

For the first time since 1995, Fox Chapel will have two regularly scheduled Saturday afternoon games. One is Sept. 21 at Carnegie Mellon University against Central Catholic, and the other a week later at Shaler in that school's traditional homecoming day contest.

In one staff change, Andy Dunlap will be the defensive backs coach. Ravotti's brother, Chad, will be coming on board after 13 years as a Freeport assistant.

Chad Ravotti will be used in a variety of coaching duties.

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