Shaler looks to get back into win column
Shaler enters the second year of the Jon LeDonne era, and while the team is searching for its first win in three seasons, last year's experience should benefit this season's group.
The Titans have a strong defensive backfield led by Jimmy Schlieper, Killian Bozzo, Nick Fugh and Anthony Zelina.
“We have four guys returning,” LeDonne said. “That will definitely be our strength. Our defensive backs coach has done a great job. We can't let them get too comfortable because we will be switching up coverage.”
Other players contributing a great deal will be Jake Hartman, a returning letterman, and offensive lineman Kenny Trush.
LeDonne is eager to shed the past in a sense as the team wants to get in the win column this season, but he has embraced the message of the former Titans who have gone on to succeed in college.
Jesse Della Valle, a former Penn State player, and J.P. Holtz, a current Pitt player, returned to Shaler to share their experience with the team in hopes of leading the way back to winning football.
“Some of our kids idolize them, and to have them come back to talk to the players is huge,” LeDonne said. “I want our kids to come out and give all they have got. We want to be tight and tough.”
LeDonne said the team has done a lot to reach goals off the field, doing bonding activities like bowling and playing paintball to create a close-knit, family atmosphere.
“Learning to trust each other and rely on each other is important,” LeDonne said.
“There was a lot of individual (stuff) when I got here. We want to be a team.”
With some pieces in place, LeDonne is searching for a new quarterback. He said there is a three-way battle going on, and he plans to let it sort itself out.
LeDonne said Michael Battaglia and Austin Sites are young players on the rise who he thinks can contribute.
The task of winning games is not easy in the Quad North Conference, which features last year's WPIAL champion, Pine-Richland, and runner-up, Central Catholic, as well as perennial powers North Allegheny and North Hills.
No matter the competition, LeDonne said his squad is taking a simple approach.
“It's one rep, one practice, one day at a time,” he said.