Fall sports practices set to begin

Quaker Valley's Derrick Dillard reaches to make a catch during a drill Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale.
Quaker Valley's Derrick Dillard reaches to make a catch during a drill Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, at Chuck Knox Stadium in Leetsdale.
Photo by Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Nathan Smith
| Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

One of the telltale signs that the end of summer is near will get under way next week — fall sports practices begin.

Team from across the WPIAL will start preparation for the 2013 season on Monday. For Quaker Valley, it will be a time to get ready to defend several WPIAL titles and start the trek to capture a few more.

“We are excited and proud of our student-athletes' accomplishments over the last two seasons,” Quaker Valley athletic director Mike Mastroianni said. “Quaker Valley student-athletes' and coaches' goal in each sport is to continue to work and teach to maximize their potential as a team and to compete at the highest level of sportsmanship.”

The football team takes to the field Monday at three times — 8 to 10 a.m., 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. — and expectations are high. The Quakers finished last season with a 3-6 record but return the entire offensive line and a junior class filled with talented skill position players. Dane Jackson was the team's leading rusher last year and will fill in at the quarterback position. He will have several options to help move the ball, including running back Tre'Won Marshall, fullback Aaron Cunningham and wide receiver Chris Conlan.

“The expectations are to compete for a conference championship,” coach John Tortorea said. “We have an offensive line that is all seniors and we have some talented skill position players. This is my third season coaching the team and the first where I can say we can compete for a conference title.”

The boys soccer team will practice from 8 to 10 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. as it prepares to defend its WPIAL Class AA title. The team finished with a 19-4-1 record. The Quakers will need to find a way to replace the production lost by the six graduates from the 2012 team.

The girls soccer team will practice from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. The team finished last season with a 16-3-1 mark, reaching the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals.

The cross country teams will look to continue their dominance over Class AA when they gather at the high school at 8 a.m. to begin practice. The boys team captured its sixth straight WPIAL title in 2012 while the girls won their fourth.

The girls tennis team will return to the court from 1 to 4 p.m. The Quakers had a banner season last year, sharing the Section 6-AA title with Sewickley Academy and winning the WPIAL Class AA title by defeating the Panthers, 3-2. The team did lose three starters and will be under the guidance of first-year coach Christi Hays — who was a volunteer coach last season — but with an expected 30 players coming out for the team, there is hope the team can continue its success from last season.

“In my first year as head coach of the Quakers, I am extremely excited,” Hays said. “Returning letterman Caroline Steliotes, Emily Veeck, Farrah Bojalad, Isa Hubsch and Emily Kraus will vie for the spots in the starting lineup.”

Boys golf tryouts will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at Frosty Valley Golf Links and on Tuesday at 7 a.m. at Sewickley Heights Golf Course. Quaker Valley was a WPIAL Class AA qualifying team in 2012.

Finally, girls volleyball will practice three times on Monday in the gym from 9 to 11 a.m., 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. The team lost only one senior from a squad that went 6-4 in Section 2-AA play to reach the WPIAL playoffs and lost only one senior to graduation.

“We want to win a section championship,” coach Mike Vavrek said. “We lost only one girl so we are hoping to get back to the playoffs and go a little further.”

Quaker Valley will look to continue its run of sports excellence from the 2012-13 academic year. The Quakers were awarded the MSA Sports Cup for Class AA by the MSA Sports Network. The award measures athletic success throughout the school year based on a points system. Quaker Valley finished with 525, nearly 200 points more than second-place Shady Side Academy (330).

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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