Share This Page

Ambridge ready to start fresh after forgettable 2011 season

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 7:56 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Ambridge's Stefan McGinnis catches a pass. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Ambridge coach Neil Tkatch has just one question for his Bridgers about last year's one-win season: “Can they put it behind them?”

He believes so.

“They got their nose beat in a little bit,” Tkatch said of an injury-filled season that included lopsided losses of 41-0, 42-0 and 49-0.

“That's why our motto is: ‘This year is our turn.' We're going to punch some people in the nose.”

The key will be staying healthy. The Bridgers began last season with 21 starters but lost almost a dozen by midseason, Tkatch said. Among those injured were lineman Brett Balkovec (6-foot-4, 295 pounds) and linebacker Dan Zajac (6-0, 185), two standouts who return healthy this year.

“When you go down the line, we lost a lot of players,” Tkatch said. “It was unbelievable. It was freakish.”

Bennie Thompkins was the starting quarterback when he fractured his collarbone in an August scrimmage and missed the entire season. His injury-shortened junior season might best epitomize what the Bridgers endured.

Optimism dashed before the season had barely begun.

“It broke my heart, for real,” he said. “Watching from the sidelines was bad when you're getting beat by 40 points every week.”

Yet Thompkins and the Bridgers have rebounded. Either he or senior Nick Santiago will start at quarterback. Santiago started last season, and Tkatch said he'd consider using both.

Junior running backs Kody Nichi, Khalil Harvey and Tim Estep will see carries, but standout sophomore Stephon McGinnis also should play a key role. McGinnis was a star for Ambridge's freshman team that finished 7-1, Tkatch said.

“We're going to try to get him in space,” he said.

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.