TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Sto-Rox football team is stressing winning title, not district woes

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Sto-Rox running back Deion Redmon carries through teammates during practice on the first day of football camp Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, in McKees Rocks.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Sto-Rox running back Deion Redmon carries through teammates during practice on the first day of football camp Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, in McKees Rocks.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Sto-Rox senior Brendan Blair works out during practice on the first day of football camp Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, in McKees Rocks.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Sto-Rox senior Brendan Blair works out during practice on the first day of football camp Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, in McKees Rocks.

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Top high school sports

Kevin Gorman podcasts

  • Loading...

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, 10:39 p.m.
 

Sto-Rox opened training camp in opposite fashion of how the Vikings envision finishing the football season.

There was little fanfare in McKees Rocks Monday for the first practice in full pads for high school football programs across the state.

Instead, Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley took a businesslike approach to a season his Vikings hope to be historic.

“It's Day One of a long season,” Sto-Rox senior tailback/linebacker Brendan Blair said. “This camp is bringing us together. Winning a championship is key.

“We all know Sto-Rox is going downhill. We try not to think about it. We all know there's no point in bringing it up. We try to be that heart and soul of the school and the town. We're trying to bring more attention and more money to the school.”

The financially distressed district has been divided since late June, when the Sto-Rox school board voted, 8-1, to eliminate the baseball and softball programs for the 2013-14 school year.

When cutting programs that cost $25,000 is a solution to balancing a $24 million operating budget, it reduces the sense of security of every sports team in the district. The softball team, after all, won 10 WPIAL titles and a state championship.

“I had a good feeling football was safe,” Sto-Rox senior guard/defensive end Jesse Rippole said. “I think it'll be here until there's no school anymore.”

With that an ever-increasing possibility, the Vikings believe winning a WPIAL title is a now-or-never proposition for a program running on a shoestring budget of $5,000 this fall.

Sto-Rox has played in the WPIAL Class A final at Heinz Field the past two years, losing both times to Clairton, which boasts a nation's-best 63-game winning streak. Where Clairton has won five consecutive WPIAL football titles, Sto-Rox hasn't won one since 1987.

“We're starving,” Blair said. “We're trying to put a banner up for the people in school and in town.

“I play for them.”

Now, Blair is playing for teammate Lenny Williams by taking snaps at quarterback. Williams, a senior who is on pace to become the WPIAL's all-time leading passer, severed a tendon and chipped a bone on the index finger of his left (non-throwing) hand last week in a hedge-clipping accident.

Rippole recounted how the Vikings had just received their equipment for PIAA-mandated heat acclimation practices when a coach informed them of what had happened to Williams.

“Knowing that a lot of teams think we're the team to beat, having that target on your back makes you work harder,” Rippole said. “Every year, we always have some adversity. It makes us better, having something to deal with.”

Bradley said the Vikings will not alter their goals — or their offense — while Williams is sidelined.

“You take a deep breath and hope for the best,” Bradley said.

“It's a rallying point, an opportunity for some kids to step up and take a leadership role while he's gone. But we're anxious for him to get back.”

Bradley has used the school's adversity as a teaching tool, instructing his players to focus on what they can control: attitude and effort.

“We use it as a defining moment,” Bradley said.

“You never know when it's going to be your last play. You have to value your opportunity, and make the most of it.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Football

  1. Football coach Loughran settles in at Fox Chapel
  2. Kiski Area to host Alle-Kiski Valley 7-on-7 Passing Competition and Big Man Challenge
  3. PIAA takes steps to shorten football season 1 week
  4. Brentwood track coach returning to Mt. Lebanon sideline
  5. Armstrong football successful in debut during summer competition at Juniata
  6. Several Alle-Kiski football teams eye season at Heinz Field
  7. Norwin football uses WCCA 7-on-7 event to prepare for upcoming season
  8. Franklin Regional’s passing attack on display at annual WCCA tournament