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Vikings prepared for Indians assault

SPRING CHURCH – After a shocking loss to Leechburg in the first week of the season, some may have thought Apollo-Ridge was headed for a down year.

They would have been wrong.

Apollo-Ridge (3-1, 2-0) rebounding from that defeat at the hands of their regional rival and reeled off three straight wins – including two in section play – to sit with Ford City atop the Allegheny Conference standings.

“I think playing poorly the first game was more of a surprise for us,” Apollo-Ridge head coach Jerry Moore said. “We played really badly, had a lot of things stacked against us and Leechburg played hard and was able to win. But we’d play them again.”

Instead of taking on the Blue Devils again, Apollo-Ridge will square off against Shady Side Academy (2-2, 1-1), a team that sits one game behind the Vikings and is coming off an embarrassing 33-13 loss to a young Deer Lakes squad.

“They’re a much-improved team, a real good team,” Moore said. “They gave Deer Lakes a battle and things could have gone the other way with them, they’ve got good athletes and they’re pretty scary.”

Moore has good reason to be afraid and not take this Indians team lightly. Freeport made a similar mistake last season against a winless Shady Side Academy squad and the Yellowjackets trudged off the field afterward licking their wounds after a shocking 21-14 defeat that may have been the biggest upset in the WPIAL.

Though Shady Side Academy is coming off a 20-point loss, the Indians will get a lift when senior quarterback Brody Nasse returns from a concussion he suffered the week before in a win over Mars. It should also make running back Phelipe Johnson, who had 17 yards on nine carries last week, a lot more effective.

“They’re playing real well, they have a lot of skilled athletes and they do a lot of things real well,” Moore said. “(Coach John Cappa) is just going to come at us with what he does and he beat Mars, so I expect them to do everything they’ve done in the past and keep getting better.”

So is Apollo-Ridge, which has senior fullback Jarrod Miller rolling through opposing defenses. last week, he ripped up North Catholic for 203 yards and four touchdowns, which gives him 450 yards and eight scores on the year.

“Jarrod’s a good player and he’s determined,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of other good players out there, too, so Jarrod’s going to give his 100 percent and someone’s going to have to bring their ‘A’ game to stop him.”

While Apollo-Ridge may have its hands full with Shady Side Academy, conference co-leader Ford City (3-1, 2-0) will play host to a Planets squad which graduated almost everybody from last season’s team that played for the WPIAL Class AA championship. Mars (0-4, 0-2) is led by senior quarterback Zach Rosswog, who has 42 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns, the only three scores the team has this season. His passing numbers are also unimpressive, connecting on 13-of-44 for 127 yards and five interceptions.

Kittanning (1-3), meanwhile, will finally play a game that means something when Knoch (2-2) visits in the Greater Allegheny Conference opener for both schools.The Knights are led by quarterback Mark Rupert, who has completed 24-of-68 for 391 yards and two touchdowns, but is mistake-prone with seven interceptions.

Leechburg (2-2, 1-1) which challenged Springdale in the Eastern Conference last week before falling 35-12, will travel to Brentwood (1-3, 0-2), which lost a six-point decision to Wilkinsburg last week.


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