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Quarterbacks split time at Fox Chapel

Fox Chapel quarterbacks Jeremy John and Matt Davis have been splitting time this season.

Whichever quarterback is calling signals for the Foxes has found that there are plenty of targets to choose from in Fox Chapel’s passing attack.

Seven different receivers have caught at least one pass, and five of them have three or more receptions.

“We’re trying to get as many people involved as we can on both sides of the football, and it shows in the passing game,” Fox Chapel coach Todd Massack said. “We feel good about the group of receivers that we have, and we’ve been rotating them in and out.”

The starting wideouts are seniors Justin Papariella and Chris Vogel. Papariella has three receptions for 78 yards, and Vogel has four catches for 78 yards, including his first career touchdown on a 22-yard pass from John in last week’s 34-7 loss to McKeesport.

Senior Justin Latore leads Fox Chapel in receiving with five catches for 71 yards. Sophomore Mike Murray also is part of the regular wide receiver rotation, but he has yet to catch a pass this season.

Junior Richard Weiland and senior Mark Lombardi have been an effective platoon at tight end. Weiland has four receptions for 61 yards, and Lombardi’s only catch went for an 11-yard touchdown against Canon-McMillan.

Senior fullback Mike Pentarek has become a bigger part of the passing game recently. He caught two passes for 54 yards against McKeesport and for the season has four receptions for 77 yards.

Senior running back Scott Fortune has one catch for 13 yards.

“With our play action passes, we’ve been able to get the running backs involved in the passing game,” Massack said.

Massack wants to create a balance between running and throwing the football, but the 0-4 Foxes have found themselves trailing every game, and they’ve been throwing more to try to catch up.

“We’ve been forced to throw the ball a lot more than we would normally,” Massack said. “That’s created more opportunities for the receivers.”

Fox Chapel’s quarterbacks have been effective in spreading the ball around to the team’s talented group of receivers.

“We’re trying to spread things out on offense,” Massack said. “Other teams can’t key on one person. A lot of teams did that to us last year.”

In 2002, Fox Chapel relied heavily on the receiving skills of all-Quad West Conference wideout Stan Malyszka, who pulled down 26 receptions for 556 yards and six touchdowns.

Even though he was often double-teamed, Malyszka found ways to make big plays in the passing game. He was quarterback Derek Evans’ favorite target and Fox Chapel’s go-to guy in passing situations.

Malyszka’s 26 receptions represented 70 percent of the passes Fox Chapel completed as a team last season. After Malyszka, tight end Jason Goeller and running back Cyrus Serrao had the most receptions with three apiece.

The Foxes don’t have a receiver with Malyszka’s size, skills and experience this season. So Massack has adopted a group approach to get the job done.

“We’re not throwing to one position or area,” Massack said. “These guys have proven they can catch the football.”

The Foxes, who are off to an 0-2 start in the Quad West, start a key stretch Friday when they host Albert Gallatin (1-1, 1-3). Conference games against Ringgold, Upper St. Clair and Trinity follow, and Fox Chapel can’t afford many more losses if it hopes to make the playoffs.

“Our goal is to keep getting better as a team,” Massack said. “And we’ve been doing that.”


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