Numbers, speed on rise for Fox Chapel
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Fox Chapel is climbing out of the red in two crucial categories — number of players and team speed.
The Foxes completed last season with less than 30 varsity players, a troubling total for a Class AAAA school, but expect to put around 50 in uniform this fall.
Also, quick, dynamic athletes such as identical twins Chad and Nigel Garnett and 6-foot-6, 200-pound Brandon Mitchell, a transfer from Penn Hills, could lead Fox Chapel in an exciting direction.
Last year, despite its small roster, the Foxes (3-7, 3-3) slipped into the WPIAL playoffs.
Still, second-year coach Eric Ravotti knows increased depth and speed don't guarantee a return to the postseason.
“It gives us hope, with numbers increasing, of being a more competitive football team,” said Ravotti, a former Penn State and Steelers linebacker. “Hopefully, we'll take another step. But I think we're in an even more competitive conference now.”
Due to the WPIAL's biennial realignment, Fox Chapel landed in the same conference as two-time defending champion North Allegheny and perennial power Central Catholic.
On the positive side, because of improving turnout, Fox Chapel will count on greater varsity depth and can field a freshman team again. Last year, the Foxes cut back to only varsity and junior varsity games. Someday, Ravotti would like to have at least 75 players available for varsity action.
The Garnett brothers, now juniors, could turn out to be gems. Last season, they started both ways, with Chad at wide receiver and cornerback and Nigel at running back and cornerback.
Nigel earned first-team all-conference honors at defensive back and is the Foxes' top returning rusher (72 carries, 369 yards, two touchdowns). He also recorded 11 catches for 175 yards and a pair of scores.
“Nigel got the accolades, but I thought Chad was just as deserving (on defense) last year,” Ravotti said.
Mitchell arguably is the most intriguing player at Fox Chapel. The tall junior was on Penn Hills' junior varsity squad last season before transferring this past winter. In the spring, he qualified for the state Class AAA championships in both hurdling events.
Mitchell could start at quarterback or wide receiver for the Foxes and is drawing Division I interest, Ravotti said.
“He's steadily progressed on offense, and he also plays free safety,” Ravotti said. “His speed is unbelievable.”
In recent years, Fox Chapel gained a reputation for producing Division I linemen, including Miles Dieffenbach (Penn State) and Adam Bisnowaty (Pitt). This year, the Foxes have good size in seniors Levi Kendrick and Tyler Lever and junior Pat Denny but a relatively inexperienced group of linemen. Now, the Foxes' main attractions could be speedy skill players.
“My goal coming in was to transition the team,” Ravotti said. “We needed the athletes to be there. The game is about speed and athleticism. But it still comes down to the offensive and defensive lines. If you can't stop teams and open holes for guys to make plays, your speed is nullified.”
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.
- Starkey: Chryst a miserable failure at Pitt
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Pouliot scores in NHL debut as Penguins tame Panthers
- Pitt players support Rudolph for job
- Jeannette company’s miniature steam engines coveted for decades
- Pitt football fights to overcome steppingstone status
- Steelers’ Bell, Chiefs’ Charles elevating running back position in NFL
- Steelers notebook: Bell says he’s prepared to test Chiefs defense
- Pair of NYC officers killed in ambush shooting
- Energy sector adjusts to global oil plummet
- Pitt survives Oakland’s upset bid with overtime victory