Shady Side Academy aims to keep playoff string alive
Dave Havern enters his eighth season as head football coach at Shady Side Academy with a string of six straight playoff appearances.
He is confident that this season's team can make it seven straight.
“We have 18 lettermen returning,” Havern said. “There are eight offensive starters and six defensive starters coming back, though some of them may be at different positions.”
SSA also boasts quite a few returning Allegheny Conference first and second team conference all-stars.
The senior running back combo of Jarred Brevard and Dennis Briggs were both chosen to the first team.
Briggs, who made a verbal commitment to Pitt, rushed for 473 yards while mainly blocking for Brevard, who has drawn interest from Penn, Cornell and Fordham. Briggs also made first team on defense at inside linebacker.
Senior Charles Calabrese made first team inside linebacker as well as making the second team at tight end and punter.
Wide receiver Tyrell Hill made honorable mention as did junior running back and defensive back Jackson Fitzgerald. Junior offensive lineman Pat Loughran also received honorable mention.
Senior Tucker Gillman will take over for Matt Granato at quarterback and the versatile Calabrese may also see some snaps.
“Both are real good athletes who can play multiple positions pretty well,” Havern said.
In the past, the Indians have treated the forward pass as an oddity.
That could change this year as they return a pair of talented receivers in Hill and Louis Berry IV.
“They're serious deep threats and very athletic,” Havern said.
Havern does have concerns about his offensive line.
“It's a concern as usual,” he said. “We have two returning starters. Loughran will start at tackle while another junior, Sky Baxter, will start at guard. They'll be joined by Zach Cosbie and Logan Platt and the fifth spot is a four-way battle up for grabs for whoever has the best camp.”
On defense, Briggs will be moved from safety to the inside.
“He's so versatile and he'll help us there,” Havern said. “Overall, we will have some talented guys on both sides of the ball, but our younger guys, especially up front, will have to grow up real fast. Our upper class numbers will be pretty slim, so some of these younger guys will have to play with the big boys on Friday nights.
“We like the chemistry of the group. We have some acknowledged talent, but our depth could become a problem as the season progresses. We have some decent size up front — nothing massive but functional. We are real fast this year and we're looking forward to another tough Allegheny Conference weekly battle.”
Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.