For the better part of a decade, Thomas Jefferson and West Mifflin have dominated the Big Nine conference, formerly known as the Big Eight.
The two schools have developed top level talent at a tremendous clip and have left conference rivals searching for answers.
Ringgold head coach Nick Milchovich may have the recipe to upset the order of things.
The Rams return Nico Law at quarterback, who recently picked up his for scholarship offer from Ohio
University. Law became the WPIAL’s latest 1,000-1,000 quarterback in 2013 and threw for 14 touchdowns.
He will thrive in Milchovich’s and will get the chance to flash his pocket presence and understanding of the passing game.
Junior running back Chacar Berry rushed for almost 600 yards last year and scored 15 touchdowns. One player to look out for is freshman Brenden Small, who some are calling the best incoming freshman back in decades.
After Milchovich was named head coach, he watched film on the Rams’ 2013 season and was impressed by the play of wide receivers Alan Pritchett and Dayshore Majors. With the two lost to graduation, the coaching staff was concerned about depth at the position.
Those concerns have turned into excitement after the emergence of seniors Brandon Thomas, Jake Gerard and Luke Baldesberger in summer camp.
The offensive line is what will make this offense deadly. Senior left tackle Anthony Martin is back from injury. The two guards will be junior Daylen Penn and sophomore Gage Ivory, while senior Eric Higgs will start at center and senior Bobby Duda gets the nod at right tackle.
The group averages almost 300 pounds, which will compete with any line in the conference. With a defense led by junior linebacker Connor Gary and senior defensive end Aaron Szakal, Ringgold is loaded on both sides of the ball.
The Rams will be tested quickly as they open the season at Thomas Jefferson. A win over TJ on opening night will say a lot about Ringgold’s prospects. It’s unfortunate that the two teams play so early in the season.
My prediction: Ringgold finishes in second place behind TJ and will win a playoff game. Out of the 21 local teams, I believe the Rams will be the biggest surprise and will compete for a WPIAL Class AAA title.