JACKSON TWP — Over the last five weeks, the Seneca Valley football team has been one of the best teams the WPIAL Quad A field has to offer.
Coach Don Holl would like to keep it that way.
With a playoff berth already in their back pocket, the Raiders will look to close the regular season with a victory at Fox Chapel Friday night for several reasons.
A win, coupled with a North Allegheny loss to rival North Hills, would hand a share of the Northern Eight Conference title to Seneca Valley.
Secondly, whether they finish tied for first or not, the Raiders can improve their seeding in the upcoming playoffs.
The No. 1 message Holl is stressing to his team this week is to take nothing for granted.
“We’re favored in this game, but we still have to go in and win,” he said. “I know Fox Chapel is struggling, but they have some really talented kids.”
The Foxes (1-7, 1-5) dropped a 49-7 decision to Butler last week. The team’s lone victory this season was a 49-14 drubbing of Shaler Sept. 28.
The talented players referenced by Holl begin with Fox Chapel junior quarterback/running back Brandon Mitchell. While he has had little success throwing the football, Mitchell has rushed for 455 yards, a 5.2 yard average and added 109 yards receiving while scoring four touchdowns.
Junior running back Nigel Garnett has tallied 479 rushing yards and a 7-yard average and has also scored four times.
“They’ve looked good in some games and then in others, they look like they are searching,” Holl said of the Foxes. “But it’s their Senior Night and we have to go in and start fast.”
Seneca Valley’s defense continued to impress last week in a 35-14 win over Bethel Park. One example came midway through the fourth quarter with the Raiders leading 28-14. Bethel Park faced a fourth-and-1 on their own 38-yard line and kept its offense on the field. SV junior defensive tackle Steven Gaviglia stuffed fullback John Mascaro for no gain. The turnover on downs set up the Raiders’ last touchdown that iced the game.
“It’s tough to play good defense against good offenses, with all of the things they can do,” said Holl. “Once a gameplan is in place, it’s up to the kids to go out and make the plays. First and foremost, you have to give them credit. We also have some really good coaches on our defensive staff.”
Senior Jon Dorogy makes plays all over the field for the Raiders (7-1). He starts at slot receiver on offense, safety on defense and also returns kicks and punts.
Offensively, he has rushed 37 times for 283 yards and scored two touchdowns. He enters Week 9 as the Raiders’ top receiver with 31 catches for 474 yards and four more touchdowns.
Holl believes Dorogy brings much more to the table than just his statistics.
“You can never discount his athleticism,” he said. “He’s as fast if not faster than anybody we play against. He’s also one of the strongest kids on the team, but I think the most impressive thing about him is that he is such a competitor. He doesn’t like to lose at anything, whether it’s a sprint or a 1-on-1 drill in practice. You can’t take a play off, even in practice, when Jon’s around.”
Seneca and Fox Chapel met last season in a non-conference affair, with the Raiders winning 42-7.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.