Apollo-Ridge coach familiar with conference changes
TribLIVE Sports Videos
After coming to Apollo-Ridge from Class AAAA Pine-Richland High School last year, Vikings coach John Skiba had to learn a new set of opponents in the Class AA Allegheny Conference.
Now, due to the PIAA's biennial realignment, Skiba finds himself in the same situation, as Apollo-Ridge has been assigned to the Class A Eastern Conference.
“I don't have any idea about many of the new teams we'll be playing,” Skiba said. “I wish I knew more about Springdale and North Catholic. I have a couple of assistants that have seen Avonworth and Northgate play.”
The Vikings won two games in Skiba's debut season last year, but Skiba is putting a program in place down to the seventh grade that he hopes flourishes in the future.
“It's a big learning experience for everybody, but the kids are climbing on board,” Skiba said.
One of the problems last season was an early season injury to quarterback Josh Zelonka. That forced Skiba to use Anthony Bozzarelli mainly because he was one of the best athletes on the team.
Eventually, Zack Long settled in at quarterback and passed for 515 yards, and Bozzarelli went back to receiver.
Now, Skiba is trying out three players at quarterback, hoping to avoid a similar situation.
Junior Jesse Zelonka, Josh's younger brother, Tre Tipton, better known as the Vikings basketball point guard, and Damon Blystone are in the running to be under center.
“We've not settled on anyone, but they're three kids I'm comfortable with,” Skiba said.
Whoever wins the quarterback derby will guide a Pro-I offense with capabilities of rolling out.
Apollo-Ridge will go with speed in the backfield with Ben Gembella and Lonny Wells filling the roles at fullback and halfback, along with Dillon Tones and Jonah Casella, a player who could be effective coming out of the backfield.
If he's not the quarterback, Tipton could see action at wide receiver, along with Alex Smith.
Two key returning linemen will be Anthony Filler and Matt Thomas, two of six seniors on the team.
Apollo-Ridge has in camp 20 juniors and 16 sophomores, many of whom will see considerable playing time due to the small senior class.
Another situation the Vikings faced last year was opening the season with Indiana, one of the highest-scoring teams in Class AAA, then visiting Washington, one of the WPIAL's all-time winningest programs.
This year, the Vikings open with North Catholic at home, followed by a trip to Wilkinsburg in Week 2 for a game under portable lights at historic Graham Field.
“That's not an easy task — it's going to be tough,” Skiba said.
In an offseason move, defensive coordinator Dave Leasure took the head coaching job at Springdale and Bruce Yard has taken Leasure's spot.
Mark Duriancik and Dave Giunta have also been added to the staff.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Penguins notebook: Maatta making strides at practice
- Steelers notebook: Bryant confident in backup Jones if Big Ben can’t play
- Fabregas: To pay or not to pay: Hospital’s bill for procedure or insurer’s rate?
- New Florence man charged with killing police officer
- Shaler woman gets top spot with group aimed at promoting kids health in school
- Uniontown man charged with rape
- PennDOT details closings as work continues on Parkway West
- New York City’s salt warning rule to take effect at chain restaurants
- Progressives’ trouble with taxes
- Coping with kids: Warming up to more time indoors