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Shady Side Academy left to replace leading skill players from championship team

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Shady Side Academy quarterback Matt Granato.

Schedule

Coach: Dave Havern

2011 record: 8-3, 6-1

Date Opponent Time

8.31 Ford City* 7:30

9.7 at Deer Lakes* 7:30

9.14 Valley* 7:30

9.21 at Burrell* 7:30

9.28 at Freeport* 7:30

10.5 East Allegheny* 7:30

10.13 Jeannette 2:30

10.20 at Summit Acad.* 12:30

10.26 at Kittanning* 7:30

*conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing Reggie Mitchell*

46-87, 706 yards, 6 TDs

Rushing Mitchell*

166-1,419 yards, 16 TDs

Receiving Ryan Reynolds*

21-243 yards, 2 TDs

*Graduated

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 6:14 p.m.
 

Shady Side Academy will be looking to claim its fourth Allegheny Conference championship in five years this season but will have some gaping holes to fill, including spaces left by the Indians' leading passer, rusher and receiver.

“We lost our leading rusher and passer in Reggie Mitchell, and we've got to find replacements for Andrew Geisler, Jake Ellis and Ryan Reynolds,” coach Dave Havern said. “Reggie started 28 games for us, Andrew started 41, and Jake and Ryan started 26 each. That's a lot of experience that we lost. Those four guys had fine careers at SSA and helped us win a lot of games. We have to replace their considerable playing ability and have some people step up to replace the leadership. That's one of our big questions.”

Mitchell played offense and defense and is now at Wisconsin, while Geisler was twice an all-conference center and Ellis also played two ways and made the all-conference team twice.

Senior Matt Granato will be taking over at quarterback.

“He got a chance to play last year when Reggie was injured, and he did fine,” Havern said. “It's tough to replace an athlete like Reggie, but we're not worried about the QB position. Matt has shown that he can get the job done.”

Despite the key losses, the Indians will return 14 starters. Included among them are outstanding junior running backs Jared Brevard and Dennis Briggs, who each topped 700 yards last year.

“I've said it before,” Havern said. “I think that we have the best pair of running backs in WPIAL Class AA. Having running backs like that will take a lot of the pressure off of Matt.”

Other seniors returning are wide receiver Chad Wallace, lineman Jake Farrell, lineman-linebacker Josh Loper, lineman Joe Bray, tight end-linebacker Chris Bush and tight end-linebacker Aaron Horne.

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