North Hills Indians Football Preview: 2014 Edition

North Hills Indians Football Preview: 2014 Edition

David Haddad, Editor-in-Chief

The biggest storyline from last football season was “what could have been”. What would have happened if starting Quarterback Jake Bruder had not been hurt? What would have happened if we saw the same production in the run game the entire season that we saw against Gateway? In a season plagued with bad luck and near misses, the Indians finished last year with a 5-5 record, ending on a heartbreaker against heavily favored Gateway. Though the 2013 season did not go the way our fine district had anticipated, the 2014 season, and the upcoming senior class, shows much promise.

We start off at the Quarterback position with upcoming senior Jake Bruder. Bruder showed extraordinary promise in the first three games of the 2013 campaign, but saw his season cut short with a broken leg against Shaler. A talented runner and calm pocket passer, Bruder will carry much of the load next season. This football team will go as he does.

Halfbacks Kevin Koch and Montae Frank will likely be replaced by Eddie McDonough and freshman sensation Nick Santucci. who averaged, respectively, 6 and 16(!) yards per carry on limited touches in the 2013 season. The Indians will likely run the football by committee, as several running backs will see a semi-equal workload. There is even speculation that jack-of-all-trades Kindhal Taylor will see touches from the halfback position.

The new running back committee will be running behind a revamped offensive line that is forced to replace Colin Murphy, Brandon Malick, and Alec Watts. Likely replacements include massive human being Zach Sammartino at the tackle position, as well as several untested underclassmen. The line will be anchored by three-year starter Adam Hofmeister and a potential Division 1 recruit in Jake Buccigrossi. Coach Carey believes that Buccigrossi’s “size and play as a sophomore gives him an opportunity in the recruiting process”. Despite an impending drop-off in average age and experience, the line for the 2014 season will most likely improve in terms of size and strength

The wide receiver and tight end position looks to be the most deep, returning five players who saw significant snaps in seasons prior. However, Bruder’s main targets in the upcoming season will be the electrifying two-sport athletes Shawndale Jones and Kindhal Taylor. The right to replace Corey Bopp at tight end, according to all spring workout indications, will be an in-camp contest between sophomore Owen Davis and new-comer Ricky Fashion. The passing game will be one of the strong suits of this North Hills squad.

The defensive side of the ball will be lead by the 2013 team leader in tackles, middle linebacker Alex Carmody. Despite a slow start in the opener against Penn-Trafford, Carmody quickly became the cornerstone of the defense. The other linebacker positions are likely to be filled by Alec Thomas, Michael Danko, and another three-year starter in Stephen Smith.

The cornerback and safety depth charts looks a lot like that of the receiver position (as is consistent with most high school programs). Andrew Bly, Brandon Wagner, Kindhal Taylor, and Eddie McDonough return to a secondary that, despite being torched by Gateway and Seneca Valley, allowed only 114 passing yards per game. Bly is the leader of the pack and one of the most underrated players on this roster. His ability to support at the line of scrimmage made screens almost impossible to run against North Hills. This was most evident when Pine Richland, the most dynamic passing team in the WPIAL, was held to only 155 yards on 35 passing attempts, a significant chunk of which were bubble screens and short routes.

The front four will see the most shuffling with all four starters graduating, including WPXI’s Week 8 Player of the Week, Elliott “The Dragon” King. The camp competition looks to be hotly contested among Zach Sammartino, Jake Buccigrossi, Drew Schwab, Ketron Shelton, Pieter DeGraef, and several unspecified upcoming sophomores. Carey called the defensive end position battle “the most competitive”, saying they won’t have a clear idea until they put on pads.

Coach Carey is optimistic heading into his second season, saying,  “ we hope to build upon everything from my first year.” Carey couldn’t ignore the toughness of the conference next year, with Seneca Valley, Central Catholic, North Allegheny, and Pine Richland returning significant contributors. However, the talent and youth on the North Hills roster should provide much promise to the citizens of this football-crazed township. Indian fans should expect that their club will improve upon their record from the 2013 season, and win at least one playoff game for the first time since 2010.