ShareThis Page

Ambridge hoping to put end to losing stretch

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Ambridge quarterback Stephon McGinnis throws a pass during practice Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, in Ambridge.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Ambridge quarterback Stephon McGinnis throws a pass during practice Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, in Ambridge.

Ambridge, once a perennial WPIAL playoff contender, has seen its share of hard times over the past decade. Wins have been hard to come by and playoff berths even more scarce.

Last season, the Bridgers appeared to turn a corner. They were in the playoff hunt until dropping their final two regular-season games.

But there was one point of encouragement for coach Neil Tkatch. This time, losing was not accepted.

“They were very disappointed, and one of the things is we sort of had that in our minds the entire offseason and the summer,” Tkatch said. “I think that really stems from our junior high success. The junior high program has won for two or three years. The JV program has won for a year or two now, so as those kids come through and they're on the varsity, they expect to win as well.

“I think that's a real positive. Sort of the approach I took was a bottom-up approach, and I think ultimately it's going to pay dividends and hopefully establish a program that will have success for a long period of time.”

Tkatch is hoping that success starts in 2013. The Bridgers return five all-conference performers.

The defense will be anchored by linebacker Dan Zajac, whom Tkatch calls a “hidden secret” and “one of the best linebackers in the WPIAL.” Defensive back Khalil Harvey and linemen Brett Balkovec and Sebastian Perez also earned Parkway Conference honors.

Stephon McGinnis will play quarterback, and Tkatch expects him to be a threat running and throwing. McGinnis is charged with improving an offense that scored a conference-low 17 points per game and failed to score 21 points seven times.

Last year, McGinnis rushed for 278 yards and caught 15 passes.

“He's small in stature, but he plays a lot bigger than he's listed on the roster,” Tkatch said. “I expect him — with his speed and his arm — to make plays, and I think the entire team does, as well.”

One part of the Bridgers' game Tkatch hopes carries over to this season is their physical play. Tkatch is a firm believer that teams that are physical — within the confines of the rules — can have success.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.