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CoGo's High School Football Feature Matchup: Baldwin at Canon-McMillan

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Both Canon-McMillan and Baldwin are fresh off losses and out of the WPIAL playoff chase, but the potential is there for a competitive matchup when the two go head to head Friday.

Canon-Mac head coach Mike Evans, who is in his first year heading a program that had three wins from 2010-14, admitted that the team has a long way to go.

“The kids work hard, but we’re years behind the other programs right now,” he said.

Evans, who spent more than a decade at California University of Pennsylvania as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator, has emphasized the importance of work ethic, commitment and discipline, and he believes the team has received and internalized that message.

Evans graded the overall season as a “D plus” so far, but he pointed out the team has flashed multiple positive aspects.

“Not seeing it on the scoreboard, but you see it a little in the stats,” Evans said.

The most notable stats come from the rushing yards category, as junior running back Bryan Milligan has recorded multiple 100-plus-yard games this season. With the installation of an outside zone scheme, Milligan’s blend of speed and power has allowed him to transition and excel, according to Evans. Evans also praised his ability to quickly get vertical, break tackles and fall forward for extra yards.

With that being said, Milligan’s importance to the team goes beyond his knack for carrying the football.

“He’s a good football player, obviously, but he’s upbeat and never misses a practice,” Evans said.

In addition to Milligan, Evans noted a group of seniors—Greyden Piechnick, Jordan Smith, Colton Blodgett and Austin Robl—as standout players who’ve helped the team along so far. With 34 freshmen, the team’s future looks to be trending up.

Until then, however, Milligan and company will look to salvage what’s left of the 2015 season by picking up win No. 2 against a Baldwin team that has fallen short of expectations this season.

Despite that, Evans, who spent most of the weekend watching film, was quick to point out the surprising amount of talent that the Fighting Highlanders have, especially on offense. Evans mentioned receiver Nick Altavilla specifically, who is third in WPIAL Quad-A with 27 catches for 522 yards. The Highlanders also feature receivers Phil Harding and Vince Persichetti, each of whom have over 20 receptions. 

“This going is to be a big defensive challenge for us,” Evans said, who also pointed out that execution will be vital due to the fact the Big Macs don’t disguise their intentions well.

Kickoff for the game is at 7:30 p.m. at Canon-Mac Stadium in Canonsburg.

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