Pat Carey's tenure as North Hills football coach started on the right foot last Friday when the Indians beat Penn-Trafford, 21-14, in his first game since replacing Jack McCurry, who retired last winter after 35 seasons.
But it only gets more difficult from this point ...
Tonight, North Hills finds itself in the Post-Gazette Game of the Week, playing host to Northern Eight Conference power Central Catholic, which moved up to No. 2 in the P-G Class AAAA rankings following its opening, 65-3 win against Shaler.
Quite the test for a second game.
"You think?" Carey said, with a laugh. "This is a quality opponent in our second game. We feel like Penn-Trafford was also a test, but, obviously, when you bring in someone like Central Catholic ..."
Carey didn't need to finish the sentence. The Vikings have earned that respect in the WPIAL, and they have the weapons to back up the talk.
Running back Luigi Lista-Brinza makes opposing defenses worry all week. He was Central Catholic's leading rusher last season and started off this year with four touchdowns.
Quarterback J.J. Cosentino threw for only 552 yards last season but committed to Florida State, and, if you saw the way redshirt freshman Jameis Winston picked apart Pitt earlier this week, that might tell you something about the type of quarterback FSU recruits.
Plus, his favorite target, Shafer Swann, can learn anything he wants to know from dad, former Steelers wideout Lynn Swann, a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
"They're very athletic," Carey said. "Lista-Brinza is a great back, already has a couple thousand yards [in his career]. Their QB is big and can throw it. And along with that, they add a bunch of skill players and a quality offensive line."
So what would Central Catholic worry about from North Hills?
"From their perspective, they're going to feel our kids are gritty -- it's evidenced on tape that we get after it," Carey said. "There's a history between the two teams. I don't think they fear us, but they should respect us."
North Hills' strength is its offensive and defensive lines, which return several key players, including left tackle Colin Murphy and center Brandon Malick, as well as Alex Denis, C.J. Fuchs and Elliott King.
Quarterback Jake Bruder and running backs Kevin Koch and Eddie McDonough lead the offense.
Nick Veronica: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @NickVeronica. First Published September 6, 2013 4:00 AM