If Seneca Valley needed an emotional boost this summer, the team's Week 1 schedule was enough.
“Your kids' minds are in the right place when they know the opener is North Allegheny,” coach Don Holl said. “You know you're going to have the right focus and motivation.”
The Quad North neighbors meet Friday night in Harmony. With Seneca Valley considered the favorite, the early-season matchup also provided North Allegheny a sense of urgency this summer.
Maybe more so than usual, camp carried a focus for Week 1.
“You have to make the most out of camp,” said NA coach Art Walker, whose Tigers return senior quarterback Jeff Clemens, an 1,100-yard passer who tore a knee ligament last season. “It's not like you're going to have two scrimmages and then a nonconference game where you can still do some evaluations. You've got to get guys ready, and you don't have Week 1 to do it.”
Seneca Valley enters Friday ranked third in Class AAAA and five spots ahead of North Allegheny, even though NA dominated this series for more than a decade.
NA strung together 12 consecutive victories over Seneca Valley before the Raiders broke the streak with a 20-6 win last September.
“They have more returners than we do and it's at their place, so they'll be the favorites,” Walker said. “That's fine with us.”
Raiders quarterback T.J. Holl, now a senior, rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown to beat North Allegheny for the first time since 2002.
It was a confidence-building win for a young Seneca Valley roster that reached the WPIAL quarterfinals.
“It was big to get that win, without question,” Don Holl said. “They're NA and they've earned the right to have the target on them. A win over them for any program is big.”
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
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