Antelopes ready to do it all over again this year


After last year's record-setting season, which landed the Avonworth Antelopes football team in the WPIAL championship game at Heinz Field, fifth-year head coach Duke Johncour remains excited to begin the 2015 season.

"We have to remain healthy and stay the course," said Johncour, whose squad consists of more senior players than any other team he has coached.

Taking command of the offense will be quarterback Zach Chandler, who was leading the WPIAL in passing after the first three games last year when an ankle injury brought his season to a halt.

Chandler will have experienced receivers to throw to in Cole Jenkins and Kurt Niklaus, along with newcomer to the team junior Matt Crilley.

Lining up in the backfield to handle the running game will be veterans Jamal Hughley and with Kevin Simpson.

The offensive line begins with center Logan Brink, while Christian Sasala will get his chances at that position.

The guards will be Matt Robbibaro and Brendan McClearan, with Chris Stanley getting plenty of reps.

A lot of Avonworth success running the ball and passing falls on the shoulders of burly tackle Shane Fitzgerald and tackle Justin Gross playing on the other side.

Avonworth's defense, which has been among the best in the entire WPIAL returns with lots of experience and a number of players capable of keeping the Antelope D an elite unit. Devon Rice will handle the tough assignment at nose tackle, and will be joined by Fitzgerald, Brink and Gross at the line of scrimmage.
Brendan McClearan and and Chris Stanley will be the outside linebackers, while Robbibaro patrols the inside at middle linebacker.

Junior Garrett Day returns as one of the cornerbacks, with Matt Goodnight and Crilley getting plenty of work at the other cornerback position.

Niklaus returns at safety, while Sebastian Mihalko, Hughley and Jenkins will get their shots in at the strong safety spot.

Johncour's overall look on offense remains the same, but along with some coaching changes, he added,"There are some changes on defense, but nothing major."

The 'Lopes return to play in the Black Hills Conference, where they are expected to contend with last year's conference champ North Catholic.

Brentwood is expected to compete, and Johncour concurred. "Everyone gets better - they work hard, they get stronger and they improve."

"I'm concerned about our non-conference games this year against South Side [Beaver] and Shenango,“ he said.