North Xtra: There's new home but same goals for Trojans

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Bob Ravenstahl is not one to look back on past accomplishments, but he could be excused if he allowed himself that luxury after his high school football team regroups after a season for the ages.

With August's weather in full measure and the first game just a day more than a week away, there is no time for reflection.

That's true even if your team is coming off a 16-0 season and is the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class A champions.

"What's that saying about not resting on your laurels?" Ravenstahl asked. "Our focus is on the present and the future."

On the face of it, however, the present is looking rather rosy for the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Trojans.

Not only are they the owners of the aforementioned accomplishments, they will also be attending classes in a spiffy new venue.

The old North Catholic High School building atop the city's Troy Hill section was closed at the end of the past school year and the school has relocated to a brand new location in Cranberry.

Although the "headquarters" has changed for the Trojans, many familiar faces are back as Ravenstahl has seven offensive starters and six defensive starters returning on his 49-player roster, very healthy numbers for a Class A program.

Foremost on the list is running back P.J, Fulmore, a 5-foot-8, 190-pound senior who will graduate in December and already has committed to playing at Duquesne University. Fulmore had a challenging season a year ago, missing several games with a high ankle sprain.

He showed his versatility, however, when quarterback Adam Sharlow sustained a season-ending knee injury in a 21-14 victory against Neshannock in the eighth week of the season, and Fulmore became the team's quarterback.

"He's one of the best players in the WPIAL, and his talent speaks volumes," Ravenstahl said. "When he became the quarterback, it was not a smooth process, but I had faith in him and he did a phenomenal job."

Fulmore rushed for 1,1213 yards and completed 22 of 47 passes for 388 yards. Ravenstahl said Fulmore wasn't in the backfield to pass the ball, but the Trojans continued to win because he gradually improved that part of his game as the team advanced through the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs.

With Sharlow healthy this season, the Trojans could be expected to be more balanced in the spread-pistol formation.

"[Fulmore] could be all over the field," Ravenstahl said. "We're still going to have the wildcat package, so you'll still see him at quarterback."

Ravenstahl has no doubt that the Trojans will be every opponent's top priority heading into the season.

"I'd rather be the underdog," he said. "It's going to be a challenge, and there are no guarantees that things will work out the way they did last year. We had some lucky bounces go our way last year, but the kids have worked out very hard this summer, and we'll have the same workout schedule we've had in the past."

Inevitably, there will be changes as the school's freshman class is 83 percent larger than the class entering its sophomore year. Also, the school welcomes about 30 transfer students in grades10-12 this year.

Ravenstahl knows the Trojans likely will move up to Class AA -- or possibly Class AAA -- when the WPIAL realigns its classifications and conferences for the 2016 season.

"We'll play wherever they place us," he said. "With the new school, it's going to give us some opportunities."

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