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Thomas Jefferson opens on the road against conference foe Ringgold

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Thomas Jefferson's varsity football team opens its season-long quest for championships on the road.

The Jaguars travel to Ringgold for a 7:30 p.m. game Friday in their Class AAA Big Nine Conference opener.

“Ringgold looks really good. They have excellent athletes with speed and quickness, and they really throw the ball well,” Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson's head coach, said. “We have to limit our mistakes and play sound defense.”

Ringgold has a young team this year, and will be leaning on a trio of seniors in Nick Trocano, a guard/defensive end; Matt Kirby, a fullback/linebacker; and Dayshore Majors, a multi-purpose athlete on offense and defense.

Kirby was an honorable mention all-conference selection on defense in 2012.

Nico Law, a junior quarterback who passed for more than 600 yards last season, also is a returning starter for the Rams, who ended up 4-6 overall in 2012.

“You are always optimistic coming into each year,” Matt Humbert, Ringgold's head coach, said. “The nice thing is that we will get to see what a playoff-caliber team looks like right away. You always know where you stand after you play TJ.”

Thomas Jefferson rolled past the Rams by a 41-14 margin last season.

With a host of returning starters back from last year's squad — which advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and finished 11-1 overall — Thomas Jefferson is anticipating a banner campaign in 2013.

“I think this team has a chance to be really good, really special,” Cherpak said.

Thomas Jefferson has several returning all-conference players on defense in senior linebackers Chase Winovich and Austin Boyd, senior lineman Matt Nagy, junior lineman Jake Guinn, and senior defensive back Dalton Dietrich.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Winovich was a Tribune-Review high school preseason football all-star selection at the linebacker position.

Offensively, Cole Costy, a 6-2, 265-pound senior lineman, is the lone returning all-conference player for the Jaguars.

Thomas Jefferson traveled to Peters Township for its second preseason scrimmage last week.

“We were a little sloppy,” Cherpak said. “We need a good week of practice.”

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

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