Share This Page

Baldwin football team aiming for winning debut

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Pete Wagner era of Baldwin football officially commences Friday at Baldwin Stadium, as the Fighting Highlanders host Peters Township at 7:30 p.m. in their Quad Central Conference opener.

Wagner, in his first year as the Fighting Highlanders' field boss, is looking for a winning debut.

Baldwin finished with a 3-6 overall record last season, and lost to Peters Township by a 40-12 margin in its season opener.

Peters Township has established itelf in recent years as a regular WPIAL Class AAAA playoff participant.

“Peters Township is an experienced, well-coached team,” Wagner said. “They have been to the playoffs the past three seasons and are looking to continue that trend.

“(They) have a handful of starters back on both sides of the ball, so it is vital we have a strong week of preparation.”

The Indians have an abundance of returning starters — seven on offense and seven on defense — on the team this year.

“The goal is to always get in the playoffs, and advance in the playoffs,” Rich Piccinini, the Peters Township's head coach, said.

The visitors are led by quarterback Cory Owen, a 6-foot-2 junior who passed for 715 yards last season and is drawing college interest.

Others back this year for the Indians include seniors Conner Kachowski, in the secondary; offensive/defensive linemen Dane Sehnert and Chris Corrado; Lukas Cervenak, at center; tight end Max Augenstein; wide receiver Mike Erenberg; linebackers Cody Sheetz and Kenny Ward; and, on the defensive line, seniors Greg Watts and Connor Pope.

There are 23 seniors on the Peters Township varsity roster.

Both squads are replacing graduated star running backs in their offensive backfield this year.

Baldwin's Dorian Brown rushed for 1,059 yards last season; Peters Township's Mike Minjock finished with 1,323 yards in the rushing department.

The Fighting Highlanders have four returning starters on offense — Doug Altavilla, a junior quarterback and third-year starter; Luke Smorey, a senior wide receiver; Sterling Jenkins, a junior tackle; and Enzo Ruscitto, a senior guard.

The 6-8, 300-pound Jenkins was a Tribune-Review high school preseason all-star selection on the offensive line.

Nick Barca, a 5-9, 180-pound senior, has inherited the job as the team's featured running back.

Baldwin has several starters back on defense including Smorey, at cornerback, and Barca, at safety.

Senior linebackers Jake Elk, Justin Zinsmeister and Bill Howley, as well as junior linebacker Donnie West, also are returning starters.

Baldwin tangled with Central Valley in its second preseason scrimmage last week in preparation for its 2013 season lidlifter.

“The scrimmage went well,” Wagner said. “Central Valley is a great program, and it is always helpful to get some solid work before week one.”

The Fighting Highlanders are 2-2 versus Peters Township over the past four seasons. Baldwin defeated the Indians by 20-17 and 12-9 scores in 2009 and 2010.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.