AA / MIDWESTERN ATHLETIC: Talented trio should carry Aliquippa

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There are many similarities between former Aliquippa High School standout and current Pitt cornerback Darrelle Revis and Aliquippa senior Antonio Reddic.

Both are extremely athletic. Both were starters on the Quips' basketball team, although Revis was a much better shooter. And, like Revis did as a high school senior, Reddic will probably play some at quarterback for Aliquippa.

And Reddic, just like Revis did, is attracting the attention of Division I college recruiters. He also is continuing Aliquippa's tradition of producing outstanding defensive backs.

First there was Ty Law, who is now with the Kansas City Chiefs, then came Josh Lay, who started at Pitt, and Revis, who is on just about every preseason All-Big East Conference team.

Is Reddic, who is 6 feet 2 and 180 pounds, as good as Revis?

"That remains to be seen," Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac said. "I have a feeling Darrelle is going to be a first-round [NFL] draft pick. I doubt Reddic will be a first-round pick.

"I look at Antonio and see a lot of Josh Lay ... that same athleticism. But I can't compare the two."

Reddic is one of Aliquippa's talented triplets. The others are senior running back/linebacker Brandon Lindsey and 6-6 junior tight end Jonathan Baldwin. They are expected to lead Aliquippa to the Class AA Midwestern Athletic Conference title and deep into the WPIAL playoffs.

Aliquippa finished 8-2 last year with an extremely young team. The Quips were knocked off, 7-0, by Washington in the first round of the playoffs.

Zmijanac's teams aren't used to ending the season that early and should challenge for the WPIAL Class AA title. Reddic is looked on as someone who will help lead the way.

He helped Aliquippa to the WPIAL Class AA basketball title this past winter, although Zmijanac, who used to coach the Quips' basketball squad, is quick to point out Reddic isn't as gifted in that sport.

"He's no basketball player, but he's an athlete, and what impressed me most about him on the basketball court is when there is a loose ball he took a step and a half before anyone else moved," Zmijanac said. "That's the sign of an athlete and he has that same sign in football."

Aliquippa assistant coach Sherman McBride, who has worked with Reddic, sees him playing safety not cornerback at the next level.

"I think he's a pure safety. He's got good speed but he doesn't have that exceptional speed. But with his size he's definitely a safety.

"The thing is, he's a terror ... a go-getter. You see that in basketball where he's diving on the floor. He just reacts. He just goes."

While Reddic will primarily play receiver on offense, Zmijanac has him in the mix at quarterback along with D'Mar Jeter, who was the Quips' backup quarterback last season.

When Revis was a senior, Zmijanac would spot him at quarterback. Revis would take snaps from center a couple series a game just to give opponents a different look.

"[Reddic] throws the ball surprisingly well," Zmijanac said. "He doesn't have a great grasp of the offense, but he has the skills. He knows what he's doing.

"Darrelle would turn the wrong way on tosses and stuff, but you can live with that. We'll limit the offense when [Reddic] is in there."

Offers from colleges haven't poured into Aliquippa for Reddic. Zmijanac said Reddic needs to improve his grades and expects that to happen.

"Pitt likes him. If he has a decent year, he'll get offers," Zmijanac added.

MIDWESTERN ATHLETIC DATA

TEAM TO BEAT
Aliquippa Losing to Washington, 7-0, in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs last season just toughened the Quips' resolve for this year. Aliquippa has 14 starters returning from what was a very young team. Running back Brandon Lindsey will shoulder much of the offensive load after plowing for 1,195 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns last season.

CONTENDERS
Beaver The Bobcats knocked off Aliquippa, 36-0, last year, qualified for the playoffs and finished 6-4. Coach Jeff Beltz has 13 lettermen -- seven on offense -- returning.

Center With nine offensive starters returning, including two mountains on the line, the Trojans shouldn't have problems scoring. Linemen Evan Blankenship (6-3, 315), an Ohio State recruit, and Nate Glasser (6-1, 275) will pave the way.

Sto-Rox The Vikings move into the MAC from the Century Conference. Wide receiver Anthony DiMichele, who caught 16 passes for 262 yards last season, and running back Jaron Whitney, who rushed for 420 yards, are back.

THE OTHERS
Beaver Falls After a disappointing 3-6 season Keith Humphries was let go as coach and replaced by Ryan Matsook, the son of former Rochester coach Dan Matsook and the nephew of Rochester coach Gene Matsook. Keep an eye on sophomore RB/DB Todd Thomas (6-3, 190).

Ellwood City Coach Curt Agostinelli has do-it-all quarterback Nick Nardone back for another year after going 5-5 in 2005.

Freedom Coach Jim Wilson would like the Bulldogs to get off to a better start than last year when they lost their first four games and five of their first six.

New Brighton The Lions expect to improve on last year's 4-5 record. Brandon Mosely took over at quarterback late in the season and is back for his sophomore year.

Quaker Valley Jeff Besong takes over as the Quakers' head coach and has a major rebuilding task. Quaker Valley has just five starters returning from a 2-8 team that was winless in the MAC.

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jonathan Baldwin, Jr., Aliquippa, TE/DE, 6-6, 230; Evan Blankenship, Sr., Center, OL, 6-3, 315; Anthony DiMichele, Sr., Sto-Rox, WR/DB, 5-11, 190; Zac Kasparek, Sr., New Brighton, OL/DL, 6-5, 295; Brandon Lindsey, Sr. Aliquippa, RB/LB, 6-2, 220.

GAME OF THE YEAR
Beaver at Aliquippa, Oct. 6.


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