Alle-Kiski Valley HS football notebook: Deer Lakes' Wiley says 'Why not us?'
T.J. Wiley has coached at several WPIAL programs, but he said his first training camp as Deer Lakes' coach was the best he's seen.
“The kids showed up and did their work with no complaints,” Wiley said. “And nobody quit. We have a lot of committed kids.”
That might have been due to a more compact camp schedule. Rather than two- and three-a-day practices, Wiley had his team work out from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with one, 20-minute break (and lunch), each day.
Wiley wants his team to embrace wholesale change.
He ordered new uniforms and has modified even the most minute details within the program.
“If I want a kid to walk up to the line (on the field), their toes had better be right up to the line,” Wiley said. “The little things matter.
“These kids are itching to win again. We could go 16-0 and win the state title and I'd still be nit-picking.”
Deer Lakes will be a young team. Its entire starting defensive line is sophomores and four 10th-graders will start on offense.
Wiley thinks he is building a foundation for change in Lancerland.
“There's a black cloud over this program; the kids are probably tired of hearing me say it,” he said. “Only 11 winning seasons and one playoff trip; blah, blah, blah. The basketball team won a section title (last season), the baseball team is good, our girls teams win. Why not us?”
It's no secret Apollo-Ridge could have its hands full with North Catholic's backfield featuring junior P.J. Fulmore and senior Jarred Fragapane.
Seeing both might have been inevitable. Apollo-Ridge probably wouldn't have escaped either player, even though the Vikings dropped to Class A.
Fulmore considered enrolling at Shady Side Academy, while Fragapane transferred from Deer Lakes. Shady Side and Deer Lakes used to play in the Allegheny Conference, as did Apollo-Ridge.
Several local players were named to the Trib Total Media high school football All-preseason team.
They are: Knoch lineman Connor Shinsky, Highlands tight end Allan Cratsenberg, Kiski Area linebacker Shane Kuhn, North Catholic linebacker Jarred Fragapane (West Deer), Central Catholic quarterback J.J. Cosentino (Washington Township), Apollo-Ridge defensive back Tre Tipton, Fox Chapel's Brandon Mitchell, who is listed as an athlete, and Kiski Area kicker/punter Adam Mitcheson.
All are seniors, except for Tipton, who is a junior.
Valley has added a pair of Gateway transfers to its football roster. One could make an impact right away. Junior Adrian Morris joined the team last week and played in Saturday's scrimmage against Hampton.
“He's finding his way through,” Valley coach Chad Walsh said. “As each day goes by, he gets more acclimated.”
Walsh said the speedy Morris is a quarterback but will see time at receiver and as a returner.
The other transfer is Morris's brother, Awaoun, who is a freshman.
Walsh said the boys lived briefly in a shelter in Tarentum before finding a place to live in New Kensington.
Riverview will have a pair of guest speakers visit the locker room Saturday morning before the Raiders play Northgate in Oakmont.
Former Oakmont football player Skip Cady, the vice president of sales and marketing for Consolidated Resorts out of Hawaii and Las Vegas, and former Pitt star defensive end and All-Pro NFL linebacker Hugh Green will talk to the team before kickoff.
Riverview assistant Chuck Wagner, the longtime coach at Springdale who came out of retirement this season, helped orchestrate the special guests. Green has spoken to teams in the past.
Valley center Terrell Fields has been cleared to play at Deer Lakes Friday. He suffered a hyper-extended left knee in a scrimmage. .... Freeport's game at Shady Side Academy in Week 5 has been moved from Friday to Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on Sept 28. ... Knoch plans to use two quarterbacks in the opener. Dan Farinelli will start with Troy Hixon also seeing time.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.