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Apollo-Ridge rolls past Leechburg

| Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 12:18 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge quarterback Jesse Zelonka is brought down by Leechburg defenders Alex Sipolino (left) and Alexander Kalmar after a 32-yard gain in the second quarter Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, at Owens Grove Field in Apollo.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Leechburg quarterback Alex Sipolino is sacked by Apollo-Ridge defenders Garret Hooks and Zach Weinel despite blocking help from teammate Dillon Shipman in the second quarter on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, at Owens Grove Field in Apollo.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Leechburg running back Kristopher Smith is stopped for a loss by Apollo-Ridge's Tyler Baustert (50) and Lonny Wells (20) in the first quarter Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, at Owens Grove Field in Apollo.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Leechburg quarterback Alex Sipolino is sacked by Apollo-Ridge linebacker Ben Gemballa in the first quarter on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, at Owens Grove Field in Apollo.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge running back Duane Brown runs for a first down past Leechburg's Matthew Rzewnicki in the first quarter Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, at Owens Grove Field in Apollo.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge quarterback Jesse Zelonka runs past Leechburg's Matthew Rzewnicki for a big gain in the second quarter Sept. 20 at Owens Grove Field in Apollo.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge wide receiver Alex Smith (center) leaps in celebration with teammates Christian Leonarski (left) and Jonah Casella after catching a touchdown pass to open the scoring against Leechburg in the first quarter Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, at Owens Grove Field in Apollo.

With the season's home stretch looming, Apollo-Ridge couldn't be happier with its present form.

“I'm extremely happy because we actually came out and we were crisp early,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “That's where we need to be.”

A quick-striking offense helped lift Apollo-Ridge to a record-setting win over Eastern Conference opponent Leechburg, 58-13, on Friday night at Owens Field.

No. 5 Apollo-Ridge (3-1, 2-1) broke a school record for points in a game, a mark that stood all of two weeks.

The Vikings scored 56 points against Wilkinsburg on Sept. 7.

The Vikings were led by multi-dimensional quarterback Jesse Zelonka. The senior signal caller helped account for four of Apollo-Ridge's six first-half scores.

Zelonka threw three touchdowns and ran for another.

His opening score was an 86-yard strike to junior receiver Alex Smith. He hit freshman runner Duane Brown and junior tight end Christian Leonarski for the other scores.

“(Zelonka) was dialed in,” Skiba said. “When he's dialed in, he's hard to deal with. He can do a lot of things.”

Zelonka finished with 180 yards on 7-of-11 passing and 114 rushing yards on six carries.

He connected with Smith four times for 116 yards.

Brown, filling in for injured Tre' Tipton, also scored on a run late in the second quarter. Tipton sprained his ankle last week and was listed as day-to-day.

Brown had 57 yards on seven carries. He caught three passes for 60 yards.

“We have a lot of guys. We have a lot of weapons,” Skiba said. “We got things rolling early tonight, and we kept going after it.”

Leechburg (0-4, 0-3) showed better execution than in previous weeks but could not contain a hotter team.

“We gave some plays up we shouldn't have,” Leechburg coach Mark George said. “We made some mental mistakes at the beginning of the game. We let some of their people open, which got us down right away.”

Apollo-Ridge scored on all five of its first-half possessions.

“Apollo-Ridge is ranked for a reason,” George said. “They're very good. They're a very skillful team. They play well together and they're very well coached.”

Leechburg scored twice.

Junior back Luke Camp scored in the second quarter on a 1-yard run, and Kris Smith scored in the fourth quarter on a 14-yarder. Smith finished with 63 yards on 12 carries for the Blue Devils.

Dave Yohe is a freelance writer.

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