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North Allegheny QB, key players in search of 3rd straight WPIAL title

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 8:22 p.m.
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich is back to direct the football team's offense the 2012 season.. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny lineman Patrick Kugler and with head coach Art Walker Jr. are getting ready for the 2012 season. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny receiver Brendan Coniker. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny's Elijah Zeise. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny lineman Patrick Kugler says he is focused on winning the state championship in 2012. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny receiver Brendan Coniker. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny running back Alex DeCiantis. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich is back to direct the football team's offense for the 2012 season. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
North Allegheny receiver Brendan Coniker. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Mack Leftwich was excited to be the leader of a North Allegheny team trying to make history by becoming the first school to win three consecutive WPIAL Class AAAA championships.

So excited that when his father accepted a coaching job at Arizona, the rest of his family stayed behind.

“I have moved around a little bit, so my dad wanted me to stay,” said Leftwich, who attended three high schools in as many years. “I didn't want to let the guys down. They've been great teammates and they embraced me, so I didn't want to leave them after a year.”

Now, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior quarterback is expected to be the catalyst for the top-ranked Tigers, who return plenty of skill.

Leftwich led North Allegheny in passing and rushing last season, but could see more balance in spreading the ball around this season. NA returns tailback Alex DiCiantis (839 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns), receivers Brendan Coniker (29 catches for 477 yards and six touchdowns), Gregg Garrity (28 catches for 434 yards, five touchdowns) and Elijah Zeise and tight ends Kevin Edwards and Zack Lyons.

“We've got some guys who can catch the ball and definitely have a guy who can throw it,” North Allegheny coach Art Walker said. “Mack gives us an opportunity because we have a lot of confidence in his ability to read and make good decisions. Mack has an understanding of what we're trying to do calling an offense and can adjust during the course of the game.”

It helps to have protection from 6-5, 285-pound senior left tackle Patrick Kugler, a Michigan recruit who is regarded as the top offensive lineman in the state and one of the best in the country.

“It's definitely one of those things where you've got to remember where he's at,” Walker said. “Pat's been very grounded, that he still has a senior season to play. He wants to play extremely well. He wants to have that burden on his shoulders, wants to be the guy that you run behind.”

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