Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Seneca Valley Quietly Flying under Radar

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Seneca Valley Quietly Flying under Radar

Article excerpt

Three of the Post-Gazette's top five teams in Class AAAA reside in the Northern Eight Conference.

Another team in that conference is also off to a strong start, but has gotten far less fanfare.

Seneca Valley, guided by first-year coach Dave Vestal, is one of three teams with one conference loss. The Raiders (3-2, 3-1), along with No. 4 North Allegheny (4-1, 3-1) and No. 5 Central Catholic (4- 1, 2-1), are all looking up at No. 3 Pine-Richland (5-0, 4-0), the defending WPIAL champion.

Senior running back Corbin Kessler said the Raiders enjoy flying under the radar.

"It kind of gives us an edge," said Kessler, who is tied for the team lead with six touchdowns. "I always think when a new coach is in and a program is rebuilding, you have new life. Things are going in the right direction"

The Raiders, who went 2-7 last season, have won consecutive games against North Hills and Butler. They'll now embark on a challenging two-game stretch playing Pine-Richland and Central Catholic, both on the road.

"It will be tough, but we have to get through it," Kessler said.

KO quarterback shines

Greg Perry coached a handful of prolific quarterbacks in his two decades on the staff at Seton-LaSalle.

Now in his second season at Keystone Oaks, Perry might have found another.

Alex Smith, a 6-foot-4 junior, has emerged as one of the top passers in the WPIAL. Smith, a first-year starter, has completed 81 of 117 passes for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has been outstanding while leading Keystone Oaks (3-2) to three consecutive wins, throwing for 312, 327 and 346 yards with nine touchdowns.

Perry said that Smith's emergence is similar to the breakout seasons put forth by Seton-LaSalle greats Bruce Gradkowski, Bill Stull and Anthony Doria.

"Very much so. He reminds me of them," Perry said. "None of them started as sophomores. They came around in their junior years and really blossomed their senior years. …

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