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Apollo-Ridge has no problems with Wilkinsburg

| Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, 12:26 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Apollo Ridge receiver Alex Smith gets brought down by Wilkinsburg's Eric Dean after a first-down reception in the first half at Owens Field in Apollo on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch

In just the first half of a 41-0 victory against Wilkinsburg on Friday night, Apollo-Ridge quarterback Jesse Zelonka put up numbers that most high school quarterbacks dream of compiling over two games.

Zelonka was 7 of 13 for 248 yards and four touchdowns in the first half of the Class A Eastern Division game at Owens Field.

“This was only his second start, and we tried to simplify everything for him,” coach John Skiba said of his senior quarterback. “He really played well tonight. He made every read he needed to.”

Zelonka found sophomore receiver Alex Smith in stride for a 72-yard touchdown on the game's first play. The Vikings maintained that 7-0 lead through the first quarter; Smith finished with two receptions for 86 yards.

To open the second, sophomore receiver Tre Tipton took a bubble screen 56 yards — making four tacklers miss along the way — to make it 13-0.

Zelonka connected with Tipton two more times in the quarter for touchdowns of 30 and 34 yards. Tipton racked up 145 yards on five receptions; 127 of those came in the first half.

“We know we have young play makers at the wide receiver position,” said Skiba, who won the first home game in his Apollo-Ridge coaching career. “It's just a matter of getting them the ball in space and letting them make some moves.”

The Vikings had the win well in hand when Ben Gembella took a handoff 41 yards to make it 34-0 at halftime. The Vikings (1-1,1-1) outgained Wilkinsburg, 347-42, in the half.

Zelonka capped the scoring when he plunged in from 1 yard out. Zelonka, who was pulled halfway through the third, finished 8 of 14 for 266 yards.

It was a tough loss for Wilkinsburg (0-2, 0-2), but coach Mike Fulmore kept a positive attitude.

“Our guys played really tough,” he said. “We know we can do a lot better. We had some guys that were injured that would have helped us a lot. ... We have to build on some of the things we did well and keep working.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.

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