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HSFB preview by position: Size isn't the only measure of LBs' talent

Chris Harlan
| Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, 8:51 p.m.

North Allegheny's Layne Skundrich was the leading tackler on a Class AAAA state championship team, but Alabama won't be calling him.

West Allegheny's Armand Dellovade, who made 130 tackles while playing with a torn knee ligament, isn't projected as a major BCS recruit either.

But both are outstanding high school linebackers, among the most productive in the WPIAL or City League, even if they're listed as shorter than 6-foot.

“Because Armand's not 6-foot-2 and not 240, he's not covered with Division I offers,” West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said. “He's every bit as good as (2002 graduate) Manny Rojas (who starred at Liberty). Armand played the entire season last year with a torn PCL and didn't say a word. He's a tough, throwback kid. People can say what they want. He makes every tackle.”

Dellovade was the team's leading tackler as a freshman. But rather than Friday night performances, high school football players are increasingly critiqued at summer camps for Saturday afternoon measurables.

“That upsets me,” Palko said. “Armand's a kid that doesn't get the recognition that he should. He was born to be an inside linebacker.”

North Allegheny coach Art Walker says the same about Skundrich, a three-year starter and the leading tackler.

“He's a strong kid with a great nose for the ball,” Walker said. “He's really the heart and soul of that defense.”

They're unlikely to become All-American linebackers in Tuscaloosa, but both lifted trophies at Heinz Field.

Chris Harlan is staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

1. Brett Zanotto

Franklin Regional, sr., 6-1, 215

The middle linebacker had 157 tackles last season with 27 tackles for a loss, earning him first-team all-conference honors in Class AAA. Zanotto also rushed for 649 yards and 11 touchdowns. He committed in June to Maryland over scholarship offers from Boston College, Syracuse and several others.

2. Kevin Givens

Altoona, sr., 6-2, 235

Givens committed to Pitt in February. The outside linebacker, had 59 tackles and seven sacks last season when he was named first-team all-conference in the Quad East. He also had five rushing touchdowns and a 25-yard fumble return for another score.

3. Armand Dellovade

West Allegheny, sr., 5-11, 215

Dellovade, an inside linebacker who also plays fullback, had 130 tackles last season and 107 the year before with six sacks combined. Both years West Allegheny won the WPIAL Class AAA title. He had 11 tackles in the championship last season and earned first-team all-conference.

4. Layne Skundrich

North Allegheny, sr., 5-10, 200

Skundrich, a starter for North Allegheny's state championship in 2012, led the team in tackles as a sophomore and junior. He had 97 tackles last season and 96 the year before. Combined, the Class AAAA first-team all-conference pick had 27 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.

5. Tim Nickel

Shaler, sr., 6-0, 210

The middle linebacker had 137 tackles in just nine games last season. He was named first-team all-conference in the Quad North. Nickel also rushed for 386 yards and two touchdowns. He's received an FCS scholarship offer from St. Francis (Pa.).

One to watch: Logan Thimons

Freeport, jr., 6-1, 210

Thimons was offered a West Virginia scholarship after attending a camp there this summer and quickly committed. He was an all-conference defensive lineman last season with 97 tackles and six forced fumbles.

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