South Range celebrating 50 years of football
By Tom Williams
For South Range’s 50th anniversary football season, the numbers are interesting.
Last year, the Raiders, playing an independent schedule after decades as a member of the Inter-County League and Inter-Tri County League, surprised many by running the table against a bunch of unfamiliar faces.
Even better, the Raiders won Division V, Region 17 and advanced to the state semifinals for the second time since 2005.
Many key players from last fall graduated, including quarterback Aniello Buzzacco, linebacker/running back Peyton Remish, wide receiver Mathias Combs and linemen Matt Brooks and Brian Robinson.
But a lot of starters are back — seven on offense and eight on defense.
Head coach Dan Yeagley, who is beginning his 24th season, is two wins away from 200. His Raiders will be going up against some of the biggest schools ever faced, including Marlington and Louisville.
“We were hoping to be in a league this year, but it just didn’t happen,” Yeagley said.
Next fall, South Range will be part of the North East 8 that includes Poland and Struthers.
“It was tough to find some games,” said Yeagley as all but two of their former ITCL rivals declined. “They are bigger schools, but we had to get who we could get.
“It’s going to be a battle.”
The Raiders run a spread offense. Junior Isaac Allegretto takes over at quarterback and senior Trent Harrold will be the featured running back.
Returning linemen are Tyler Dolak, Christian Maust and Jordan Lowery. Also back are wide receiver Josh Stear and tight ends Ryan Davenport and Jacob Gehring.
Davenport’s memories of last year’s 13-1 team include the team bonding on longer trips.
“Traveling an hour-and-a-half to two hours was a great experience,” Davenport said. “Learning to adapt to [a new] environment was cool.”
Running a 4-3 scheme, the Raiders return their entire defensive line (Dolak and Davenport at end, Anthony Czap at nose guard and Jordan Lowery at tackle). And Mike Schneider has recovered from a season-ending leg injury.
“He was capable of starting last year,” Dolak said.
Dolak said he prefers defending.
“Defense, I feel I can make more happen,” Dolak said. “I feel you can have more of an edge on defense.”
Harrold has shifted from outside linebacker to inside to replace Remish.
“There are a lot of big shoes that we need to fill to get ready for [Friday’s] Springfield game,” Remish said.
In the defensive backfield, Stear, Allegretto and Alec Ballentine return.
“Overall, it’s a great defense,” Davenport said. “We just need to fill [some] gaps.”
Anthony DeLucia will kick and extra points while Allegretto again will punt.
Like last season, the Raiders are playing a schedule filled with unknowns.
“Everything was in sync, it was just awesome,” Harrold said. “We have a lot of starters back and yes we lost a lot of valuable players.
“This year, I think we are going to have a lot tougher schedule, a lot of bigger schools,” Harrold said. They have a lot more kids on their rosters, so it’s going to be a big step.”