North Catholic's defense shuts down Highlands, 19-0
MCCANDLESS TWP — North Catholic first-year head football coach Chris Rizzo picked up his first Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference win at J.C. Stone Field on Friday night.
North Catholic (2-2, 1-0) blanked a Highlands (3-1, 0-1) offense that entered the game averaging over 30 points per game, winning 19-0.
Slowing down Highlands star senior running back, Luke Bombalski, was one of the keys to the game for Rizzo and his staff.
“We just focused on trying our best to stop their run game and tighten some things up that we didn’t do very well in the past,” Rizzo said. “Our guys executed tonight.”
North Catholic held Bombalski to just 40 yards on 16 carries.
In a dominant performance, the Trojans didn’t allow a first down until the second quarter. Highlands junior quarterback Menage Lucas did not complete a pass until the third quarter. North Catholic sophomore defensive back Ryker Kennedy picked off Lucas in the first quarter.
North Catholic senior running back Jack Fennell spearheaded an excellent rushing attack, carrying the ball 16 times for 135 yards. Fennell scored the only touchdown of the first half.
Rizzo said that it’s a luxury to have two senior running backs to lean on.
“As a team, it’s always a nice thing when you have two guys who can really tote the rock,” Rizzo said. “Two seniors that you can trust in critical down and distances.”
North Catholic did just that in the second half.
The Trojans leaned on senior running back Danny Franco in the second half to pick up some key first downs that ended up opening up the passing game.
North Catholic senior quarterback Jason Siket struggled to find a rhythm in the first half, but connected on touchdowns to a pair of juniors --- Jack White and Brady O’Hara --- to put the game out of reach. The senior threw for 120 yards in the second half after throwing for just 9 in the first.
“In the first half, I was off on my footwork and timing,” Siket said. “I tried to key in and focus on that (in the second half).”
Siket said that the Trojans running back tandem helped their passing attack get going in the second half.
“Both of them had a great night, if you could establish the run game it opens up the pass game,” Siket said. “They did a great job.”
Rizzo was pleased with the progress he saw through the air in the second half.
“Our passing scheme is super detailed,” Rizzo said. “We’re settling into it a little bit, it’s a good thing to see.”
Siket was excited for his head coach postgame.
“The winning feeling is great,” Siket said. “Starting off conference play with a win is always a big deal.”
North Catholic 6 0 13 0 — 19
Highlands 0 0 0 0 — 0
NC — Jack Fennell 2 run (kick failed) 7:38
NC — Jack White 28 pass from Jason Siket (conversion failed) 4:08
NC — Brady O’Hara 74 pass from Jason Siket (Kennedy kick) 1:37
Rushing: North Catholic, Jack Fennell, 16-135, Jason Siket 4-42, Danny Franco 7-37. Highlands, Menage Lucas, 13-74, Luke Bombalski, 16-40.
Passing: North Catholic, Jason Siket, 7-16-129-0. Highlands, Menage Lucas, 4-14-20-1.
Receiving: North Catholic, Brady O’Hara, 4-87, Jack White, 1-28, Ryker Kennedy, 2-14. Highlands, Semaj Miller, 1-10, Jahmar Wright, 2-8, Aiden Burford 1-2.