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North Catholic has familiar look despite changes

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
North Catholic's P.J. Fulmore catches a pass during practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, in North Park.

The name on the front of the jersey will change, and eventually the school's location will, too, but for Bob Ravenstahl and his newly christened Cardinal Weurl North Catholic squad, expectations will not.

“We always have the same goals,” Ravenstahl said. “(Last year) made us hungrier, be it that we got as close as we did to getting to Heinz Field.”

The Trojans rolled to a WPIAL Class A Eastern Conference championship and into the WPIAL semifinals before losing to eventual runner-up Sto-Rox.

Returning are 1,800-yard rusher P.J. Fulmore and quarterback/wide receiver Ryan Kirby, who led the team in passing with 539 yards on 43 completions.

“They're definitely crucial players to our success,'' Ravenstahl said.

Kirby made the switch to wide receiver permanently late last season heading in to the playoffs and will start the season there, making room for junior Aaron Sharlow behind center.

“We see (Kirby) being a big part of our team at the wide receiver position,” Ravenstahl said. “He's a great leader, and he'll do whatever it takes for the team to be successful.”

Up front, all-conference center Dylan Grieco leads a line that returns four starters, including Josh Churchin, Ryan Long and Joe Sadler.

Senior tight end Ronnie Meder returns as the team's leading receiver from a year ago.

The 4- 35-2 defensive scheme gives the Trojans room to move more players around since many starters will play both ways.

Churchin and Meder will start at linebacker, and Kirby, Sharlow, Fulmore and Brennan Sefick will patrol the secondary to start the season.

North Catholic has made the playoffs six times in the last seven years.

The Trojans will jump into conference games Aug. 30 when Apollo-Ridge visits.

Construction of the new school, which is located 20 miles north on Route 228 in Cranberry from its current Troy Hill location, will be complete by January 2014.

The increase in enrollment likely won't immediately affect the football program's Class A status.

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