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It’s all in the family with the Serra Catholic football team. Last week’s Homecoming game was celebrated with a huge victory over Derry as the Serra Catholic Eagles defeated the Trojans of Derry 49–7.
The leaders of the (5-1) Serra Catholic football team credit their season-long success to the “family-like” environment developed by Head Coach Jose Regus.
“We have a really good bond with the coaches. They speak to us about football and even just life in general,” said senior quarterback Elijah “Tiger” Ward. “They are role models, and they make it like we are a family.”
Up next for the Eagles is a game tonight versus the 2-4 Yough Cougars. The Eagles will look to build on their 5-1 overall record and 3-0 record within their conference.
Ward, who splits time at quarterback and is the starting safety on defense knows what it takes to win. He was on last year’s team that made it to the WPIAL Championship game at then-Heinz Field.
Ward unknowingly broke his hand on the first play of the game but continued playing and surpassed all expectations by intercepting a pass and running it all the way back for a Serra touchdown.
“I don’t even know how it happened. It was crazy but that what we are trying to do again. That’s the plan for this year,” Ward said.
Ward was proud of being selected as a member of last Friday’s Homecoming court. and although he was not crowned King, he said that his primary focus was on the football game. Where he was 5-7 passing for 85 yards and 1 touchdown along with eight carries for 44 yards.
Ward also credits his dad, Mike Ward for helping him to succeed: “He’s the one that gave me the name, ‘Tiger.’ He’s my personal trainer. He’s my biggest fan. I’d say he’s helped me the most.”
Tiger Ward has seen his hard work beginning to pay off as several colleges have begun reaching out to him for football, including Marietta, Shippensburg, Westmnister, Waynesburg and Saint Vincent.
The player who shares the quarterback duties with Ward is Quadir Stribling. Although Stribling is only a sophomore he has been instrumental in Serra Catholic’s offense, especially against Derry, where he threw for 298 yards and had four touchdowns.
Stribling still has a couple of years left to play in high school, but he too would like to play in college someday.
Stribling looks up to his older cousin, Raion Strader, a senior defensive back at Penn Hills High School who is being recruited by Division I schools.
“I’d say I look up to my cousin Raion, but my family, Jasmine Booker, Molly Booker and Jason Booker have also been a huge part of my success,” said Stribling. He also enjoys the family-like environment he experiences at Serra Catholic. “Everyone has treated me so good. Everyone shows me love,” he said.
The player who is most often on the receiving end of Elijah or Quadir’s passes is senior wide receiver Amire Spencer. Spencer leads the Eagles in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
During the game versus Derry, Spencer had five receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
The speedy wide receiver also runs the 100-meter, 200-meter and the four x 100 relay in track and field at Serra Catholic. Spencer wears “1” on his jersey because he likes the NFL wide receiver Jamar Chase — and also because 17 wasn’t available.
“I like Jamar Chase but my work ethic is more like Antonio Brown when he first came into the league,” Spencer said. “I’m always working and trying to get better.”
Spencer summed up his current situation with three short statements: “School is number one. I love football and I love my teammates.”
When Serra Catholic isn’t throwing the ball all over the field, they occasionally bring in heavy-hitting senior Mike Schanck to carry the ball on running plays. Last week at the homecoming game, Schanck had the first touchdown of the game and a fumble recovery on defense.
Schanck, too, was a member of the Homecoming court though he did not win. “It was more important that we won the game,” said Schanck.
Schanck likes scoring touchdowns and running the football, but he prefers defense because he likes the physicality that it takes to play defense. “I like to hit,” said Schanck.
Schanck credits his dad Mike for his success and says that he wears number 34 because it was the closest number to his dad’s old number 33.
He is unsure about what he wants to do in the future. He has been approached by Saint Vincent College for baseball and football, but he is undecided about college at this time. He is currently focused on getting the Serra Catholic Eagles back to the WPIAL Championship game and beyond.
In other local scores:
The 5-1 East Allegheny Wildcats defeated Valley High School 38-14. The Wildcats will be tested this week as they square off against another 5-1 team, the Freeport Yellowjackets.
McKeesport Area (6-0) defeated Ringgold 42-0 and will take on a 2-4 Connellsville team tonight at home.
Jason A. Mignanelli is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh’s North Hills and a student at Duquesne University. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published October 06, 2022.