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North Hills Defense Stalls Upper St. Clair
By Rick Smith, Nauticom Sports Network

The North Hills Indians (2-0) used a stifling defense and solid ground game on offense to score a convincing 21-7 victory over Upper St. Clair (1-1) at Panther Stadium last Friday. It was the final tune-up before both of these perennial WPIAL Class AAAA powers head into conference play this weekend.

North Hills led 14-0 midway through the second quarter on the strength of 11 and 17 yard touchdown jaunts around left end by Brian Stumpf. The first touchdown was set up by a 74 yard run by senior quarterback Todd Szramowski. A 42 yard pass from Szramowski to junior wide receiver Mickey Yokitis set the stage for Stumpf's second score.

Stumpf, a 5'10" 170 pound senior, keyed a running attack that ran up 244 yards on the ground. Stumpf finished the evening with 88 yards on 15 carries and also caught two passes for 18 yards. Szramowski finished the game with 83 yards rushing and completed 4 of 6 passes for 63 yards.

Upper St. Clair cut the lead in half soon after North Hills' second score with a 3 yard touchdown plunge by Rich Trotter, a 5'9" 170 pound senior. Trotter's 75 yard kickoff return deep into North Hills' territory gave the Panthers great field position prior to the touchdown.

Following a scoreless third quarter, North Hills junior Nick Kappas was the catalyst for the Indians' final score. At the same instant USC punt returner Joey Mazzarini gathered in a Zsramowski punt, Kappas ripped the football from Mazzarini's grip. Kappas fell to the turf with the ball and gave North Hills a first down at the USC 20 yard line.

Three plays later, fullback Steve Smyers, also a four year starter at linebacker with over 300 career tackles, blasted straight through the Panthers' defense for a 15 yard score. Smyers, a senior honors student with a 4.4 GPA, is being recruited by a number of Ivy League colleges. Indians' senior kicker Ian Fisher added his third extra point to complete the game scoring.

North Hills, dominating all night on the defensive side of the ball, outgained Upper St. Clair 307 to 97 in total net yards. Upper St. Clair was never able to mount an extended drive on offense during the game.

Meanwhile, the injury bug has hit Upper St. Clair hard. The Panthers, already without the services of All-State candidate LB/TE Ron Blue, lost senior three-year starter Justin Sujansky to what appeared to be a serious left knee injury. Sujansky is the Panthers leading rusher, a fine defensive back, and handles all the kicking chores for USC. Obviously, if he is lost for any length of time, it could have serious repercussions to Upper St. Clair's succcess in 1999. If that wasn't bad enough, USC head coach Jim Render has also lost three other starters to injury early this season.

Both Teams will be back in action this Friday night. North Hills opens its Quad North Confernce schedule at home against Fox Chapel (0-2), while Upper St. Clair travels to Canon McMillan (0-2) for a Quad West Conference tilt.