A-K Valley high school football notebook: Springdale prepares for explosive Imani attack
Seth Napierkowski saw plenty of talent when he watched film of Imani Christian, Springdale’s Week 1 opponent.
Plenty of scoring, too.
Springdale (0-0) will travel to Wilkinsburg on Saturday afternoon for its Class A Eastern Conference opener against No. 2 Imani Christian (1-0), which is coming off an 80-6 rout of Washington D.C.’s Richard Wright Charter.
“There’s talent everywhere on that field,” said Napierkowski, entering his second season as Springdale’s coach. “The offensive linemen are talented, the quarterback is talented, he’s got a big arm, they have multiple receivers, obviously led by R.J. Hart -- he’s the heart and soul of the receiving corps, and probably the whole team. He’s the real deal, and we’re going to have to account for him in any way we can.
“We’ll see. We have a game plan put together already. We’re installing it here (Monday), we’ll work on it here throughout the week and we’ll see what happens.”
Hart, a Plum transfer and Ball State recruit, had eight catches for 286 yards and six touchdowns last week.
Springdale qualified for the playoffs in 2017 for the 17th time in 18 seasons, but the Dynamos graduated more than a dozen seniors. With an eye on being prepared for the regular season, Springdale scheduled two scrimmages instead of playing an optional Week Zero game.
“We used these first two scrimmages just to give some of these younger guys looks, get them reps, get them used to varsity football,” Napierkowski said. “So when we go on Saturday here, it’s not quite the shock and awe factor that they were feeling in the first two scrimmages. Overall, I was happy with it.”
Springdale got a taste of competing against a high-level team in its second scrimmage last week against defending WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A champion Quaker Valley.
Imani, last season’s WPIAL runner-up in Class A, will provide another stern test in an Eastern Conference schedule that also includes Clairton and defending WPIAL and PIAA champion Jeannette.
“It’s certainly going to be a challenge, but I tell these guys all the time to embrace that challenge -- don’t back down from it,” Napierkowski said. “They put on their pants and their shoes the same way that we do, so we’re going to go on the field and give it our best. We’re going to play hard.
“I know one thing: Our guys aren’t afraid of anything.”
As the adage goes, special teams are the important third facet of football, and they certainly were for three Alle-Kiski Valley teams in Week Zero.
Kiski Area’s Troy Kuhn scored a touchdown when a snap went over the Allderdice punter’s head; he scooped up the ball and went 17 yards for a score in the Cavaliers’ 24-9 win.
Valley’s Vaun Ross set up the Vikings’ first touchdown in their 26-21 win over Burrell with a long punt return. In the third quarter, Lawrence Phillips blocked a punt that was recovered at the Burrell 5-yard line, and Deonte Ross scored on the next play.
Leechburg held Apollo-Ridge at bay during its 28-13 victory last week thanks to punter Tanner Dudek flipping field position. On one punt, Dudek fielded a snap that went over his head, retrieved the ball and booted the ball away to avoid a big loss.
“Hard work pays off,” Dudek said.
Milestone for Rams
Highlands’ game Friday at Keystone Oaks might be a nonconference tilt, but it has one particular significance for the Golden Rams: It’s the 500th game in program history.
After last week’s loss to Plum, Highlands is 260-232-7 all-time.