South Fayette returns to Lions’ Den after 2-0 start
There’s no place like home. Just ask Joe Rossi.
For after two successful road trips to Central Valley and Mars, Rossi’s Lions will entertain Ambridge in South Fayette’s home football opener set for 7 p.m. Sept. 8.
“Having four of your first five games on a road is a challenge,” Rossi said. “So we are excited to be home. Definitely,” he added. “Any time you get to play at home it’s a good thing. You don’t have to board a bus. It’s just easier.”
Though the Lions cruised to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the Northwest Nine Conference opener, their 30-6 triumph at Mars was not easy. South Fayette only led, 7-0, against the Planets at halftime.
“We played a good team on the road,” Rossi explained. “In the second half, we played better. Good defense. We took a step forward.”
Indeed, for nine of SF’s 11 starters on defense are new to their roles this season. Peyton Tinney had a pick-6 in the win against the Planets. Ray Eldridge and Jake Walker combined for a safety. Ben Coyne applied the pressure on the quarterback as he registered his eighth sack of the season.
“Each individual had a hand in the victory and we are gaining good game experience,” Rossi said. “Defensively we played well.”
Rossi singled out Ryan Kokoski. The junior starts at free safety for the Lions.
“It’s one of the key positions on our defense,” Rossi said. “Ryan’s asked to do a lot of things. He’s got a good football IQ.”
On the opposite side of the ball, so does Drew Saxton. The senior signal caller passed for 269 yards at the Lions extended their streak to 49 consecutive WPIAL victories. He completed 20 of 29 aerials and tossed a TD strike to Kokoski.
Johnny Beck rushed for 109 yards and scored twice on short runs of one and five yards.
“Our offensive line is coming together,” noted Rossi, “and (Beck) had a nice game rushing.
With the victory, Rossi said that the Lions took a “step forward” and they want to continue that progress against the Bridgers, who lost their conference opener and dropped to 0-2 overall after a 28-14 loss to Highlands. “We want to keep getting better,” Rossi said.
Though the game against Ambridge is a homecoming of sorts after two road trips, it is designated “Senior Recognition Night.” The Lions will honor 13 of those upperclassmen. Among them are: Saxton, Eldridge, Beck, Walker, Noah Plack, Zach Sabo, Johnny Obenour, Nick Carter, Christian Robinson, Kirk Hegarty, Jared Renz, Jeremy Stabile and John Zaramba.